The National Union of Students Scotland (NUS) has condemned Conservative Party plans to fund higher education claiming they would create a “black hole” in spending.
The NUS have pointed out that Conservative plans to introduce tuition fees of up to £4,000 would only provide graduate contributions from 2017, resulting in an interim funding gap of £1.5 billion.
NUS Scotland president, Liam Burns, who was recently elected as President of NUS stated: “The Scottish Conservatives have claimed they are the only party being honest with the electorate but their own figures show they are misleading the electorate, students and universities on a breathtaking scale”.
He continued: “The graduate contribution proposed by the Scottish Conservatives wouldn’t provide full income from fees or loans until at least 2017, four years later than they assume. This leaves a huge black hole in the Conservatives’ costings.”
However, Conservative finance spokesperson Derek Brownlee, hit back against the claim. He told The Telegraph: “This attack from NUS Scotland is just not credible... If we listen to NUS Scotland, then universities will face a black hole in their funding.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie warned that failing to address higher education funding could result in 13,000 university places being scrapped by 2014.
The criticism comes less than two weeks before the Scottish Parliament elections, where higher education funding is a key issue in party manifestos. The Conservatives are the only party to have confirmed that they will introduce tuition fees. The Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties have all pledged not to introduce student contributions to higher education.
The latest YouGov poll, which was released last week, put the SNP ahead in the polls with 45 per cent of those asked stating they would vote for the party in the constituency vote. Labour trailed behind with 32 per cent whilst the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats garnered 10 and 8 per cent respectively. The Scottish Parliament elections will take place on 5 May.