MP defends vote for student fees

EAST Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson is facing a storm of protest after supporting university tuition fee hikes.

The coalition government last week succeeded in raising fees to as much as 9,000 a year, despite a number of Lib Dem MPs rebelling.

Ms Swinson backed the move, leading Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP David Whitton to accuse her of "political opportunism".

He said: "I wonder when she was trooping through the 'Aye' lobby if Jo Swinson spared a thought for the students staging a sit in at the London School of Economics against the policy.

"She makes much of her degree from that excellent university but her vote ensured that only the most affluent of young Scots will be able to follow her."

Ms Swinson defended her stance, saying that the increases were needed to deal with the financial crises and that Labour offered "no alternative.

She said: "I understand that many people are disappointed by the higher education changes, and I'm happy to discuss the issue in detail with any concerned constituents.

"Ideally I would like to see higher education across the UK funded from general taxation, as happens here in Scotland thanks to the Liberal Democrats. However with fewer than one in 10 MPs in the House of Commons, the Liberal Democrats are not in a position to deliver on all of our manifesto commitments.

"It is important for Scottish students considering studying at English universities to know that there are no upfront charges.

"Under the proposed new system, every graduate will pay a lower monthly contribution than they do under the current system, and they will only repay a percentage of their salary on earnings above 21,000. Around 60 per cent of graduates will have some of the overall amount written off."

She added: "What we have achieved is not as good as would have been the case under a Liberal Democrat government, but I have worked hard to ensure that it is fairer than the system we were left by Labour. That's why I supported the proposals."