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Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 20:19 GMT
Reaction to the Cubie report

Cubie report The report has 52 recommendations

The Cubie report into student finance in Scotland recommends that payment of tuition fees should be deferred until graduates find a job and are earning 25,000 a year.

It also proposes the reintroduction of student grants, in the form of bursaries but the findings fall short of demands by the Liberal Democrats for the abolition of the fees.

This is how politicians and other interested groups reacted to the report.

Joint statement from the First Minister Donald Dewar and Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace: "The executive is grateful to Andrew Cubie and his committee for its thorough and detailed report into student finance.

"The Ministerial Working Group will now study the report, and will advise Cabinet which will then make its decision.

"We expect to be in a position to make a statement to parliament around the end of January."

Liberal Democrats. Scottish leader Jim Wallace: "We welcome the fact that Cubie recommends the abolition of tuition fees. This remains the party's policy.

"Andrew Cubie and his team have done a thorough job over the last six months. As he himself says, the extent of the need for change would not have been identified if the committee had not been established.

Jim Wallace Jim Wallace: "A significant contribution"
"This is a complex and detailed report. Its 200 pages and 51 recommendations will require considerable study.

"Its proposals to tackle student hardship and fund wider access to higher education will require serious consideration.

"We look forward to discussing the report with our coalition partners.

"The report is a significant contribution to the debate on student finance and an important staging post on the road to the abolition of tuition fees."

Lib Dem backbencher George Lyon: "There's two ways forward. One is that we see the abolition of tuition fees and the coalition continues, or we see the abolition of tuition fees and the coalition falls by the wayside.

"I would like to see the former. The ball is in the court of the Labour Party - it's up to them."

Scottish National Party. Enterprise and lifelong learning spokesman John Swinney: "The Cubie Report is a humiliation for Labour and leaves their policy on student finance in tartan tatters.

"In his foreword, Andrew Cubie rightly describes the current funding arrangements as 'discredited' - arrangements voted for a little over a year ago by Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish, John Reid and Brian Wilson.

"Many recommendations of the report are proposals that the SNP campaigned for in the Scottish Parliament election campaign, and called for in our own Cubie submission.

"The restoration for hardship grants for students from low income backgrounds was a lonely fight for the SNP in the election campaign, when Labour were vigorously defending their policy of scrapping the student grant.

John Swinney John Swinney: "A rubbishing of Labour policy"
"We were also strongly in favour of benefit entitlement being restored for students, and challenge Labour in London to deliver on this key recommendation.

"And ministers elsewhere in the UK have an obligation to scrap the fourth year tuition fees anomaly for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"The SNP welcome Cubie's attack on tuition fees, but part company with him on the fundamental point of principle on the importance of free education.

"A deferred form of graduate payment does not constitute the restoration of free education - rather it would be yet another backstairs tax - and there are no guarantees about the level of any graduate payment into the future.

"But Cubie represents a rubbishing of Labour's policy and the current student funding regime, and is an extremely important contribution to the debate on student finance."

Scottish Conservative Brian Monteith, MSP, said: "If you ask a committee to design a horse they come up with a camel and Cubie's Camel comes with many humps.

"The Cubie Committee says it is abolishing tuition fees but they will be replaced with a graduate tax that recovers exactly the same amount that would have been paid in fees.

"Even worse, many students will have their loan entitlement reduced as well as having to pay a new tax and some will be entitled to no loan at all.

"Surely a recipe for further student hardship?

"Cubie's proposals are contradictory and mean increased costs all round."

National Union of Scotland Scotland. President Richard Baker: "We are delighted that the committee has given proper consideration to student poverty.

"This report is a huge step forward on the status quo and shows that government policy on student funding was wrong.

"We are seeking clarification on some issues but we have won the arguments on grants and student hardship."

"NUS Scotland is claiming to have won the arguments on every aspect of students maintenance. On grants, on the plight of mature students, on the need for a childcare allowance and on a return of students to the benefit system, the committee has responded positively to NUS Scotland's submission."

Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals (Coshep). Convener Dr Ian Graham-Bryce: "From the beginning Coshep put forward twin priorities of protecting the quality of higher education and tackling the real problems of student hardship.

"It is to the committee's credit that their proposals address these priorities.

"Coshep very much hopes that people will read this report as a whole and that they will recognise the genuine step forward it presents Scotland.

"It would be a very great shame if this package was dismantled. We have now been offered a second chance to find the right solution.

"Cubie has put forward a solution which takes the inequity out of student finance and while it leaves Scottish higher education in a financially neutral position, it will not harm the quality for which Scottish higher education is renowned.

"Coshep called for help for students when they need it to be balanced by contributions from graduates when they can afford it.

"We believe that this is fair and we believe that the broad thrust of what the Cubie committee has proposed is fair."

Association of University Teachers (Scotland). Research officer Dr Tony Axon: "The redistribution of wealth is most welcome and recognises that the richest students are using student loans to supplement their income rather than out of need.

"The association had earlier called for an increase in the allowance for living expenses and a reduction in part-time work and the committee has responded with a package that starts to tackle poverty and promote equal opportunities.

"The recommendations end private contribution to tuition fees at the point of entry.

"The association accepts this compromise and urges the Scottish Parliament to do the same for the sake of increasing social inclusion in Scottish higher education."

CBI Scotland. Director Iain McMillan: "The committee recommendations to reform student funding and relieve student hardship and the principles on which they are based, appear to offer a good chance of achieving these objectives.

"When the Labour, Liberal Democrat coalition was formed after last May's elections, CBI Scotland welcomed the stability such arrangements would offer Scotland and its business community.

"We do hope that the coalition partners will be able to find sufficient common ground, following the Cubie committee's report to enable stable devolved government to continue."

Scottish Green Party. Education spokesman Jim Park: "The report is a mismash. It's most disappointing and appears to be designed to just shore up the Labour-Liberal coalition on the Mound.

"We are concerned that student poverty means that many students are having to juggle their studies with having to hold down one or even several jobs.

"This is having a negative impact on course work and is reflected in patchy attendance, fatigue in class and a high drop out rate."

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See also:
21 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Inquiry backs tuition fees reform
21 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Cubie's Christmas gift unwrapped
21 Dec 99 |  Education
Students want fees reform for all UK

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