Another hot potato brought to you courtesy of the Scottish Parliament.

All but one of the parties campaining to get seats in the Parliament had as part of their manifesto a policy which would abolish university tuition fees, as brought in by the Labour government across the UK two years previously. Before that, no fees had to be paid; students were subsidised by the government. What's more, they were entitled to non-repayable maintainence grants.

Now, the one party who did not have this as part of their election manifesto was the Labour party. And, the party who gained the most seats was, (you guessed it), the Labour party. What they did not have, though, was a majority of the house.

This resulted in Labour and the Liberal Democrats forming a coalition government in Scotland. The LibDems only allowed this, however, if Labour promised to abolish tuition fees. So they did. And they worked on finding a replacement. A slight mistake on their part, however, was doing those two steps in that order. While fees are gone, a replacement is not yet in place. The Cubie Report has found that a nominal contribution (about £2,000) should be repayed to the Student Awards Agency Scotland when the graduate begins earning above (£10,000). This isn't law yet.

The result is that anyone currently at university or college will not need to pay fees (£1,000 per year until now) for the rest of their course, and any student starting university in October 2000 will not have to pay fees throughout their course, or the so-called Graduate Endowment Tax.

The small print: So who is eligible? Any student normally resident in anywhere in the EU, except England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but including Scotland, and who is studying at a Scottish university.

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