Monday, January 21, 2013

Leading academic Professor of civil law at Edinburgh University, John Cairns says that free higher learning is not centuries old as the SNP claim, “this illustrates the ignorance lying behind the First Minister's recent claim”

Dear All

John Cairns is a professor of civil law at Edinburgh University; he has decided to have a pop at the SNP Government over claims of a "centuries old tradition" of free higher education north of the Border.

Professor John Cairns says the reverse was true, with students often paying fees directly to academics.

In higher education some Scottish students do have to pay fees at university.

His intervention comes after suggestions by the SNP that its policy to keep university tuition free for Scottish students was part of a tradition dating back centuries.

Scribbling away on his blog on the university's website, Mr Cairns said the claim was untrue.

Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, and Alex Salmond, the First Minister, have spoken about this tradition.

Cairns said:

"Attending the class of Civil (Roman) Law at Edinburgh University in 1880 cost five guineas ... this illustrates the ignorance lying behind the First Minister's recent claim in his New Year broadcast of "Scotland's centuries-old tradition of free education" in the universities."

So, Mr. Cairns appears to be a man who doesn't mince his words regarding matters of fact!

Cairns added:

"That university education should be free is arguably a laudable ambition, though as a policy it raises interesting questions about how to pay for such expensive institutions as the British universities. But the point of interest here is that, quite simply, there is no centuries-old tradition of free university education in Scotland. This is an indisputable matter of fact."

Time for a quote by Alex Salmond:

“My problem is that I have too many talented people and not enough Cabinet positions”!

This issue yet again raises the issue of trust in the First Minster Alex Salmond if he is peddling myths as the basis to add credibility and historical legitimacy to the Government's policy on fees, what else is he peddling which doesn't stand up to evidence?

A Scottish Government spokesman said:

"The First Minister was referring to the fact that we have a tradition of free education in Scotland”.

With the independence campaign stalled at 28%, maybe someone should go attend a few classes by John Cairns; it seems that facts are making a comeback!

Pulp fiction doesn't seem to be working!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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