Home U.K Nicola Sturgeon promised to ‘dump’ Scottish student debt ‒ it increased by...

Nicola Sturgeon promised to ‘dump’ Scottish student debt ‒ it increased by 169%


The leaders of the Scottish political parties tussled in yesterday’s election debate, with Scottish Lib Dem chief Willie Rennie piling the pressure on Ms Sturgeon. He hit out at her “poisonous” relationship with Alex Salmond following months of tension between the two independence advocates. Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross also accused Ms Sturgeon of focusing too much on breaking up the UK in the midst of the pandemic. One of the more heated exchanges came over a specific manifesto promise dating back to 2007 – the SNP’s pledge to scrap council tax, which sparked yet another confrontation between Mr Ross and Ms Sturgeon.

The Scottish First Minister has been criticised for a number of pledges that have yet to be delivered on, including another 2007 manifesto pledge.

The SNP vowed it would “dump the debt” for students going to university “by meeting annual loan repayments, reintroducing grants instead of loans and scrapping the graduate endowment fee”.

However, Ms Sturgeon and her SNP colleagues have overseen an increase in overall student debt in Scotland.

In the past year, the Student Awards Agency Scotland handed out over £500million of loans compared to £187million the year after the SNP’s 2007 win.

The scale of student debt is now at over £5billion, the equivalent to around one sixth of the entire Scottish Government spend for a year.

Former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard raged at this in 2018, demanding Ms Sturgeon apologise for the broken pledge.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon did not dump the debt, she dumped the promise.

“Even by the standards of this government, promising to scrap student debt and then increasing it by 169 percent is nothing short of shameful.

“Will the First Minister today do the right thing and will she apologise for her £5billion broken promise?”

Mr Leonard once again brought the subject up in January 2020.

He added: “We know that it is students from the poorest families who are forced to borrow the most.

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“First Minister, will you simply admit that the SNP misled students and will you apologise?

“How many generations of Scottish students have to go through university before this government keeps any promise on support for student living?”

The First Minister denied the allegation that student loans burden working-class students, claiming that debt figures in Scotland are “significantly lower” than in other parts of Britain.

It is true that, while Scotland’s student debt has rocketed in recent years, graduates north of the border take on an average of three times less student debt than their counterparts in England.

This was outlined in figures published by the Student Loans Company (SLC) earlier this month.

They revealed that graduates in Scotland on average leave university with £13,890 of debt from loans.

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Students in Wales have an average debt of £24,960 and students who were studying at English universities have to pay off an average of £40,280 in student loan debt.

Despite recent controversy surrounding Ms Sturgeon and leader of the newly formed Alba Party, Alex Salmond, the SNP look set to win a majority.

This is according to a poll carried out by Survation for DC Thomson.

It found that the Greens would secure 11 seats – an increase of five on the previous election.

With the SNP’s 67 seats, this would result in 78 pro-independence MSPs in the Parliament.

The survey also placed the Scottish Tories third behind Labour, now led by Anas Sarwar.


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