‘SCOTLAND doesn’t have tuition fees' - I hear it all the time and it’s just not true.

In 2007, the SNP government scrapped the Labour/LibDem “graduate endowment” (which were essentially tuition fees in all but name) meaning that in the vast majority of circumstances, Scottish undergraduate students would have their tuition fees paid for by the Government – but for so many students, the idea that Scotland doesn’t have tuition fees is completely removed from reality.

It’s especially frustrating to me as one of the many students paying thousands of pounds to study here in Scotland.

As someone from England, I’m not eligible for the free tuition my Scottish classmates receive – while my peers taking the exact same classes as me rightly benefit from free education, I have to cough up more than £9000 a year, just because of where I’m from.

My classmates from countries outwith the UK pay even higher fees, with tuition for international undergrads costing as much as £30,000 a year.

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It’s a system that feels deeply unfair, and it is. By any definition, the Scottish education system discriminates based on where students are from – and it feels in direct opposition to the Scottish Government’s usual attitude towards those who have chosen Scotland as their home.

As a student from England, I feel let down by both the Scottish and UK governments.

It’s the UK Government that chooses to go down the route of extortionate tuition fees for English students, and the Scottish Government that chooses to make students from England pay that sky-high rate – even if we’re studying in Scotland.

One of the common arguments against Scotland offering free tuition to students from the rest of the UK is that it would result in huge numbers of students from England applying to study in Scotland to take advantage of the free tuition – but I don’t see how that’s a bad thing.

There are already set numbers of places reserved at each university for Scottish students and there’s no reason why that couldn’t continue to ensure Scottish students weren’t disadvantaged, but equally the reverse brain drain Scotland would benefit from as students from England come to study and then stay here would be hugely beneficial to the Scottish economy.

Last week the principal of the University of Edinburgh, Peter Mathieson, suggested that the way to prevent brain drain away from Scotland would be to charge tuition fees for the wealthier students.

I can’t stress enough how damaging it would be to further entrench the two-tier system of fee-paying and non-fee-paying students in Scotland, and this particular suggestion would significantly widen the class divide that already exists between wealthier students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

By charging wealthier students tuition fees, you make those students significantly more attractive to universities that currently rely on fee-paying students cross-subsidising those whose places are funded by the Government.

That’s not to mention 2020 research by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) which found that almost two-thirds of university applicants in Scotland would put off going to university if they had to pay tuition fees.

It couldn’t be clearer that tuition fees – in any form – present a huge barrier to working-class students accessing higher education.

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The current funding model of universities in Scotland is broken – the amount of money institutions receive from the Government to teach Scottish students is significantly less than the actual cost of that student’s education, resulting in an increasingly marketised education system where universities exploit international students for extortionate tuition fees to maintain the cross-subsidy.

It's incredibly unsustainable and needs urgent reform – but tuition fees are not and never will be the answer. No student should have to pay to access education, no matter where they’re from.

Wealth redistribution must play a key role in reforming our education system. There’s a huge amount of money being hoarded in our education system, which could be redistributed and put back into learning and teaching.

Mathieson, for example, takes home a six-figure salary more than double that of even the First Minister, as well as having a

five-bedroom townhouse and private chauffeurs paid for by the university. The University of Edinburgh also has around £1.8 billion in unrestricted reserves – that’s more than the Scottish Government is legally allowed to hold in reserves!

I acknowledge though that the money raised by cutting egregious principal salaries and redistributing the reserves of the bigger universities wouldn’t raise enough money to close the funding gap entirely, and that’s where increased progressive taxation comes in.

The National: those studying in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee bring in the most

The argument of many who advocate for the English model of tuition fees is that it’s essentially a “graduate tax”, so it might seem surprising that most of those same voices are opposed to increases in actual tax for those wealthiest in society.

That’s because the graduate tax comparison is total nonsense – it has to be paid even if you drop out and don’t graduate, and wealthier students can skip paying thousands in interest by just paying upfront.

The tuition fee model is designed to benefit the wealthiest in society, so it’s no wonder they’d prefer that over us actually taxing their wealth.

Of course, Mathieson isn’t the only knight of the realm to have come out in favour of tuition fees over the past couple of weeks.

In his latest U-turn, Keir Starmer recently reneged on his promise to abolish tuition fees in England, in yet another move that will only go to further alienate young and progressive voters down south.

It’s not all been bad news this week though. Following a significant court case, it was reported this week that the Scottish Government will extend free tuition to those with a wider range of immigration statuses, including children of asylum seekers.

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It’s a shame that it took such a long time, as well as a legal challenge, to force the government into making this change, but it’s a positive step forward in Scotland while everywhere else seems to be sliding backwards.

The path to fixing Scotland’s broken education funding model isn’t going to be easy, and I won’t pretend that it will be.

But what I can be entirely clear on is that if we want an education system that is accessible, lifelong and sustainable, the only way to reach that is by removing tuition fees entirely, not by bringing them back.