The SNP scrapped university tuition fees - imposed by Labour - saving students up to £9,000 annually and ensuring acceptance to university is based on the ability to learn not ability to pay.
A re-elected SNP Government will implement Widening Access Commission recommendations that by 2030, students from the 20% most deprived communities make up 20% of university entrants. An SNP government will work with universities to ensure people with care experience with minimum entry requirements are guaranteed a university place and receive a full bursary.
The number of students funded to study full-time for recognised qualifications at colleges has grown by 22% since 2008-09 to a record 61,304 and colleges are now engaging with employers more than ever before. Opposition parties ludicrously claim the SNP has cut 152,000 college ‘places.’ In fact, 79,000 of these courses lasted only five hours in total and 42,000 ten hours. Equating these one-off courses with the full-time courses the SNP encourages is misleading.
In North Ayrshire we will invest over £12 million of extra funding in our schools over four years to drive forward improvements in educational attainment.
Under the SNP, free early learning and childcare increased from 412.5 to 600 hours a year. If re-elected we will almost double that to 1,140, ensuring our youngsters get the very best start in life. All 135,000 children in Primary 1-3 now receive free school meals, ensuring each child gets a healthy, nutritious meal whilst saving families £380 a year per child.
Education Maintenance Allowances - abolished in England - have been extended in Scotland to ensure 57,000 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds stay on at school or college.
Enterprise and development investment is double the UK’s, whilst spending on research and development increased 44% since 2007.
In North Ayrshire, youth unemployment has fallen faster than elsewhere in Scotland over the last three years and apprenticeships are up from 446 to 889, a 99.3% increase.
We also replaced Labour’s shockingly profligate Private Finance Initiative which paid for four North Ayrshire schools. These cost £83 million but NAC must pay interest and charges totalling £401 million by 2037/38, with NAC increasing payments annually from £11.1 to £16.6 million whilst not even owning the buildings. These rising payments limit NAC’s ability to invest in jobs and services.
Using non-profit distribution, the SNP builds schools with private profits capped at 5% and surpluses directed to the public sector.