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Friday, May 7, 1999 Published at 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK


Axing tuition fees 'the price of coalition'

Every party except Labour wants to end student tuition fees

Labour will have to drop its policy of charging students at universities in Scotland up to 1,000-a-year if it is to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats in the new Scottish Parliament.

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Jim Wallace, called for the abolition of tuition fees only days before the election.

Questioned on the issue at a press conference on Friday morning, following the vote, Mr Wallace said: "Nothing has changed from what I said earlier this week."


[ image: Donald Dewar: Possible U-turn]
Donald Dewar: Possible U-turn
A majority of the members of the new Scottish Parliament were elected on manifestos which backed the scrapping of the controversial policy.

The Scottish Secretary, Donald Dewar, who is set to become first minister in the new parliament, dropped hints during the election campaign that a U-turn was not out of the question.

Privately, many Scottish Labour politicians are said to be opposed to tuition fees.

But such a move would cause tensions between Holyrood and Westminster, which will continue to impose fees on higher education students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The main winners from any change of policy would be students who were residents of Scotland before taking up places on courses at Scottish universities.

English, Welsh and Northern Irish students who attend Scottish universities would be less likely to be exempted from fees, as this would mean the Scottish taxpayer picking up the bill for non-Scottish students.

However, the "Scottish anomaly" - under which students from Scotland and non-UK EU countries on four-year courses pay fees for three years, while those from other UK countries pay for the full four years - is likely to be changed.





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