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Scotland's uni funding system faces legal challenge

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-14607122
A leading human rights lawyer is planning a legal challenge to Scotland's university funding system.

Phil Shiner said the policy breaches the European Convention on Human Rights by charging students from other parts of the UK to study north of the border.

Scottish students studying at home do not pay tuition fees while some 22,000 English students in Scotland do.

The Scottish government has defended its policy and says it is acting within the law.

Mr Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, is already representing two students who have been given a full judicial review to challenge the increase in tuition fees at England's universities.

The legal team acting for Callum Hurley, from Peterborough, and Katy Moore, from London, are expected to argue that poorer students and those from ethnic minorities could be discriminated against by the change.

Mr Shiner has now turned his attention to the fees structure in Scotland where English students pay between £1,820 and £2,895 per year, which will increase to up to £9,000 from next year.

He believes that ministers in Scotland have "misinterpreted the law".

Mr Shiner said the Scottish fees system contravened the European Convention on Human Rights and could also be in breach of Britain's Equality Act.

So what are peoples views and opinions on this matter? I for one think that we need to have either a United Kingdom or a devolved one. Having this partial devolution allows situations like this to happen. It will be interesting to see what the legal outcome of this is.

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    G-Raffe wrote: »
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-14607122


    So what are peoples views and opinions on this matter? I for one think that we need to have either a United Kingdom or a devolved one. Having this partial devolution allows situations like this to happen. It will be interesting to see what the legal outcome of this is.

    Whilst there are issues that need to be sorted out (and by nature I'm a unionist rather than a devolutionist) there is no way it is a Human Rights Issue (nor was his JR of increases of tutition fees in Engl;and) and just makes a mockery.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Much like the man who thought it was against his human rights that the NHS wouldnt give him a gastric bypass because he didnt weigh enough. Judge said (thankfully) no and his weight was his own fault (i hope)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If ECHR is being applied here then devolution isn't the issue anyway, being a signatory is.

    Case won't get far though.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Well devolution is the issue, that is why the jocks have it free and we dont ;)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    G-Raffe wrote: »
    Well devolution is the issue, that is why the jocks have it free and we dont ;)

    But it does mean that the money they are using for funding students can't be used for something else instead. That's their choice and if we have devolution it follows through that they'll be differences.

    But the real issue is why is this being treated as a Human Rights issue? That's what sticks in my craw and it seems to be an attempt by a lawyer to overturn the democratic will of an elected Government. If Government's cannot even make a policy change without an unelected lawyer being able to get an unequally unelected judge to overturn it we might as well give up on this democracy lark and just let the Phil Shiners of the world govern us how they think best.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    But it does mean that the money they are using for funding students can't be used for something else instead. That's their choice and if we have devolution it follows through that they'll be differences.



    What though? From everything I've seen they're getting a pot of cash from us (England) and they don't seem to be going without much at all. Others are right though, we're either a United Kingdom, or not. We wouldn't be able to get away with charging the Scots more for things, why should they be able to?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    But the real issue is why is this being treated as a Human Rights issue? That's what sticks in my craw* and it seems to be an attempt by a lawyer to overturn the democratic will of an elected Government. If Government's cannot even make a policy change without an unelected lawyer being able to get an unequally unelected judge to overturn it we might as well give up on this democracy lark and just let the Phil Shiners of the world govern us how they think best.

    * plus I've seen real human rights abuses in Bosnia and this doesn't come close to mass graves or group rapes.

    Neither do lots of human rights abuses. Maybe we should all keep quiet about them unless we've been the victims of genocide or rape then, eh? The issue here is one of equal access to goods and services. Any EU student can go to a university in any other EU member state for the same price the locals pay. The Scots believe they have found a loophole in the law that allows them to specifically charge the English, Welsh and Northern Irish more (other EU citizens will be charged the same as the Scots, because of the aforementioned law). The lawyer obviously believes there's a legal case to answer, and so it absolutely is a human rights issue based on equality of access to services.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's an interesting one. EU law means EU nationals cannot be charged more than Scottish domiciled students, so someone from Poland will be charged the same as Scotland. What is a grey area is whether or not EU law protects English and Welsh students in the same way, my understanding is that it doesn't because it is an internal matter for the UK.

    I think it is a human rights issue because we share a nationality, it is just that one segment of the country is charged a different fee to other parts of the country. I don't think the case will get far because of the implications to Government policy, but I do support the challenge. Everyone should have the same access to services, it is not right or proper that someone from Romania can pay 70% less than someone who lives two miles across the border.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whowhere wrote: »
    What though? From everything I've seen they're getting a pot of cash from us (England) and they don't seem to be going without much at all. Others are right though, we're either a United Kingdom, or not. We wouldn't be able to get away with charging the Scots more for things, why should they be able to?

    Don't believe everything you read - for example, whilst they don't pay for prescriptions they do have worse access to GP and longer waits for surgery...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    My colleagues have also pointed out that EU students are not entitled to receive support for living costs, unlike students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I think these students should be careful what they wish for...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Don't believe everything you read - for example, whilst they don't pay for prescriptions they do have worse access to GP and longer waits for surgery...


    Considering my local GP is utter shite and I'd been waiting 3 months for a referral for an arm injury, I can only imagine their system must consist of being smacked around the face and being told it's a cure for leg pain. Otherwise, we're being ripped off and they're getting extra perks from our taxes.

    If we truly are one nation, then services and laws should be the same throughout. If we aren't one country, then maybe we're just better off cutting the cord and leaving our neighbours to the North to fend for themselves and clawing back all the money we give them instead of having a current setup where if you're North of the border you get treated better by the national government.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If we're one country, it should be one system - or education should be handled completely separately in all 4 states. As it is, Scottish MPs get to decide how it should work in England, with English MPs having no say over how it works in Scotland. Remind me how that's fair?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think that gets referred to as the West Lothian debate?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Wearing my cynical hat, I'd say that Labour deliberately constructed the West Lothian problem knowing full well that Satan will be skiing to work long before a Tory ever gets elected in Scotland again. The issue is less of a problem now with a Conservative government- all the Scottish MPs voted against the current proposals- than it was when 'top up fees' were introduced by Labour on a tiny majority.

    The issue, Scary Monster, is that we're not one country. Scottish law is very different to English and Welsh law in many ways- there's an entirely different criminal justice system, for example- and that was the case long before devolution.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If we're one united country, it should be one system, across the board. If we're not one united country, then it needs to be separate systems, in separate places, managed locally. And financed locally.

    As things are, we're not getting either of those, but some bizzare hodge podge of the two, which lets the Scots in particular move the goal posts and make up their own system to do as they please.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It is financed and managed locally though, hence why they're charging more money to non-Scottish residents than to Scottish residents. The amount they're charging to English students is the same as would be charged to them by an English HEI. The education system and all the rules are very different in Scotland, run by a different organisation to different legislation. I don't think you appreciate how different it is- the school system is different (they don't take GCSEs or A'Levels), the higher education system is different (it is usually four years UG, often starting at 17 rather than 18), the criminal justice system is different (the Sheriff Court and Procurator Fiscal), insolvency legislation is different (no IVAs). The legislation and management of most of this is done at a local level.

    I agree that it is a hotch-potch but it has always been like that- Scots law has always been different to English law. I'd agree that Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs shouldn't be allowed to vote on things that don't affect their devolved region, but that isn't the Scottish "changing the goalposts", that was Labour not addressing the West Lothian problem when they created the devolved Scottish Parliament. As I say, I think that was deliberate.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I've got a pretty good idea how different it is. Having worked in higher education access and admissions it gives you a pretty good grounding in how the various education systems in different parts of the UK work.

    Just because something has always been different, doesn't mean that it should stay different - and as for moving the goal posts, how I see it the same people deciding different things for England than they they go on to do for their own patch is moving the goal posts. Although I guess you're right, it's a bigger issue than university funding.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Meh

    .
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    .
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