Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Talk of Fees Is Tricky in Scotland, Says Principal

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Talk of Fees Is Tricky in Scotland, Says Principal

Article excerpt

University leaders are wary of calling for the introduction of tuition fees in Scotland because they fear being punished by the Holyrood government if they do, according to one vice-chancellor.

Craig Mahoney, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of West Scotland, said that charging for higher education would provide much-needed income for institutions and encourage students to adopt a consumerist approach.

But Professor Mahoney told Times Higher Education that fees were "not talked about very often" among principals. In a "close-knit" country like Scotland, he said, "opposing government policy isn't always welcomed".

The Scottish National Party has made maintaining free higher education a cornerstone of its administration - going as far as erecting a monument to the policy at Heriot-Watt University.

Professor Mahoney, formerly the chief executive of the Higher Education Academy, said: "I believe this is a conversation we have to have; I believe there is an appetite to discuss this. But the concern is, if you are seen to be affronting current government policy, that may cause problems."

Professor Mahoney complained that grants from the Scottish Funding Council provided the equivalent of about £8,000 per student at best, leaving his institution with a multimillion-pound shortfall compared with English institutions. …

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