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NUS Scotland and UCU Scotland hold National Education Rally and Candlelight Vigil at Scottish Parliament

9 December 2010 | last updated: 11 December 2015

Students, lecturers and pupils from across Scotland to protest Westminster's fees vote

Students from across Scotland will join lecturers, pupils and their communities at the Scottish parliament today as part of the joint National Union of Students Scotland and UCU Scotland National Education Rally and Candlelight Vigil, being held in the wake of UK Government's vote on tuition fees.

The rally and vigil are being held to show opposition to the UK Government's plan to treble tuition fees for students studying in England and make clear that the fees-vote is not just an English-only issue, an issue students will remember ahead of next May's Scottish Parliamentary elections.

The fees increase means Scottish students wanting to study in England will be saddled with over £40,000 of debt, and translates into a drastic reduction in public spending on education down south which has slashed the Scottish Government's current budget. It could also take tens of millions from the student support budget in Scotland for loans and grants fuel calls for English students studying in Scotland to pay much higher tuition fees.

Speakers confirmed include Liam Burns, President of NUS Scotland; Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning; Claire Baker, Deputy Scottish Party spokesperson on Higher Education; Margaret Smith, Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Education and Young People; Patrick Harvie, Leader of the Scottish Green Party; Terry Brotherstone, Vice President, UCU; and a Scottish pupil.

Liam Burns, President of NUS Scotland, said:

'Today is decision day for Liberal Democrat MPs in Scotland and for MPs across all parties. The UK Government's proposals to treble fees and make drastic cuts to universities will destroy higher education as we know it in the rest of the UK. The proposals could also cause great damage in Scotland too, with Scottish students studying in the rest of the UK facing debts of over £40,000, spending cuts to universities passed on to the Scottish Parliament over the coming years and the potential for tens of millions to be taken from student support budgets in Scotland due to changes in the way loans are paid back in the rest of the UK.

'The protests today are the culmination of months of demonstrations across the UK. Students will be making their way through the snow and ice to demonstrate in Edinburgh and try one last time to persuade MPs to do the right thing. Every single Liberal Democrat MP across the country, including the 11 in Scotland, signed a personal pledge to vote against any increase in fees. Their manifesto promised to abolish them. To vote in favour or to abstain would be one of the most blatant betrayals and one a whole generation of students would never forget.

'The decision Liberal Democrats have to make today is do they value the trust of a whole generation of young people, or do they value being in Government? Millions of people, including many students, voted for the Liberal Democrats for a new way of doing things and to be their voice in Government. For students, the Liberal Democrats have stayed silent just when they had the most important opportunity to protect students and universities from a hugely damaging assault.

'Today we will be shining a light on the promises MPs made to students to vote against a rise in fees, and sending a warning Scottish political parties that we will remember where they stood on this issue for many years to come. If Liberal Democrat MPs abstain or vote in favour of these proposals then they would be doing untold damage to their party only six months ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections.'

Lesley McIntosh, UCU Scotland President said:
'We are demonstrating with our students in sub-zero temperatures across Scotland because the increase in the limit on fees has an impact across the UK. Scottish students face huge debt if they study in England or the scramble for places in Scotland. Our poll shows that Scottish MPs who vote for a trebling of fees will face a backlash against them and their parties in the upcoming elections.

'The fees rise will bring chaos to funding system in Scotland as the present mechanism to stop fee refugees cannot cope with such a massive rise. It is essential for the future of our system that we look beyond ways to squeeze money out of students. It is time big business started paying its fair share for the numerous benefits it receives from higher education.'