Few more nefarious policies have been visited upon the people of these islands than the Scottish government’s deliberate discrimination against university students from the rest of the United Kingdom. From next year, students living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who plan to go to a Scottish university will face a bill of up to £36,000 for a four-year honours degree course. However, their counterparts living in Scotland – or in another European Union country – will pay nothing. More than that, the parents of the English students contribute more per head to university spending in Scotland than they do in England through the Barnett funding formula.
French or German parents pay no taxes at all to the UK exchequer yet their offspring can have a free place in a Scottish university. It would be hard to design a more divisive policy – and maybe that is the intention of SNP First Minister Alex Salmond. If he can stoke up English resentment he might achieve the independence he seeks. Ironically, were Scotland a separate EU nation then such discrimination against British students would be unlawful; but it is allowed within countries.
It is time to put an end to this injustice. An amendment to the Scotland Bill now before the House of Lords is to be voted upon later today to prevent Holyrood denying students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland the rights it has given to people in other European Union states. Tabled by Lord Forsyth, the former Scottish Secretary, it has all-party support and the approval of leading academics. The Government has yet to back the move; but it is hard to see how it could possibly oppose giving all youngsters resident in the UK and attending Scottish universities the same deal as everyone else in Europe.
Strange how the Torygraph can turn such a malicious piece of Coalition policy into an attack on the Scottish Government.
The 'deliberate discrimination against university students' they talk of was perpetrated by the Conservatives and their LibDem lapdogs when they allowed for these huge increase in tuition fees. The LibDems, incidentally, largely garnered their General Election votes by being absolutely opposed to this policy only to rubber-stamp it when asked into the Cabinet to massage Conservative shoulders. The Tories, at least, had campaigned on this issue.
The Scottish Government, meanwhile, stuck to their manifesto pledge of ensuring Scottish residents (not nationals) would have their tuition fees paid. How irritatingly principled that must seem to the Telegraph and its mendacious, spiteful hacks.
The fact is, though, that the English electorate got what they voted for. They make up almost 90% of the UK electorate, after all. In the Commons vote, five LibDem MPs from Scottish constituencies voted for the bill, along with David Mundell - the only Tory elected in Scotland. Not a policy made in Scotland then...
However, English voters, having gotten the government and policies they deserve now want to circumvent the policy by sending their children to Scottish universities. For free. Almost like all these tax dodges that wealthy Telegraph readers engage in while telling the rest of us to get our hands in our pockets.
In the process, these students sent up from the shires displace young Scots who, presumably, have to find places in English universities and pay the £9,000 fees.
You can see why the Torygraph are spitting feathers....can't you?