It seems the Liberal Democrats are not only on the up but up to their old tricks.
First we have leadership contented Jo Swinson
Swinson used an appearance on the BBC's flagship political debate show to claim that just four per cent of children growing up in Govan were going on to university.
The MP for East Dunbartonshire, speaking on Question Time, pointed to the disparity in outcomes between young people growing up in more affluent suburbs in Scotland and poorer inner city areas.But education secretary John Swinney today accused Ms Swinson of aiming an "appalling insult to the pupils and staff at at schools in the Govan area who are achieving so much".Glasgow City Council’s director of education, Maureen McKenna, said the most recently available figures showed that 13 per cent of pupils leaving Govan High School went on to university, while 24 per cent went on to higher education.
Speaking on Question Time on Tursday, the Lib Dem leadership hopeful said:
“I represent a very middle class, affluent constituency and in one of the towns 80 per cent of young children go on to university.“Five or six miles down the road in Glasgow Govan it’s four per cent. Now that’s not because of tuition fees, because we don’t have them in Scotland, that’s because of the lack of investment, or aspiration of young people that don’t even grow up thinking that’s an option for them. That’s where we need to focus that early years intervention if we really want to tackle inequality.
”Chris Stephens, SNP MP for the Glasgow South West constituency, which includes Govan, said:
“Jo Swinson must issue a full retraction for using fake figures to make false and patronising claims about children in Glasgow.“It’s no wonder that the Liberal Democrats have such a bad reputation for misleading people, when their deputy leader is willing to make bogus claims on national television to deflect from her own appalling record propping up the Tories in government.”
You can argue about the numbers but it seems Ms Swinsons are way off
We also have Peter Black trying desperately to rewrite History
On the other side of Offa's Dyke, the outgoing Prime Minister has called on her successor to cut tuition fees and reintroduce student grants to assist young people study for their degree and cut the amount of debt they face on graduation. If only she had concentrated on measures like this when she had the opportunity.
This is especially so as Wales has already led the way with this reform, under a Welsh Liberal Democrats Education Minister. As is made clear here, Wales is now the only country in Europe to introduce equivalent maintenance support across full-time and part-time undergraduates, as well as postgraduates. It includes a means-tested maintenance grant to pay for living costs such as food, books and rent. This has resulted in a huge boost in students applying.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have long argued that living costs are the biggest barrier to people studying at university. That is why, in government, Kirsty Williams has introduced a new package that ensures students receive the equivalent of the National Living Wage in grants and loans while they study.
The impact of this important reform is evidenced by the BBC, who report today that early figures from the Student Loans Company show a 35% rise in the number of students given financial support to study part-time this year. That increase reverses the trend over the last ten years of 45% drop in part-time undergraduates in Wales.
We all know who that the Liberal Democrats record on Tuition Fees As part of the coalition agreement the Lib Dems abandoned their pledge to oppose any increase in tuition fees but gained permission to abstain on any vote relating to the increase of tuition fees.
Following devolution in 1999, the newly devolved governments in Scotland and Wales brought in their own acts on tuition fees. The Scottish Parliament established, and later abolished a graduate endowment to replace the fees. Wales introduced maintenance grants of up to £1,500 in 2002, a value which has since risen to over £5000.
In England, tuition fee caps rose with the Higher Education Act 2004. Under the Act, universities in England could begin to charge variable fees of up to £3,000 a year for students enrolling on courses as from the academic year of 2006–07 or later. This was also introduced in Northern Ireland in 2006–07 and introduced in Wales in 2007–08. In 2009–10 the cap rose to £3,225 a year to take account of inflation.[ Following the Browne Review in 2010, the cap was controversially raised to £9,000 a year, sparking large student protests in London.Scotland
Tuition is handled by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS), which does not charge fees to what it defines as "Young Students". Young Students are defined as those under 25, without children, marriage, civil partnership or cohabiting partner, who have not been outside of full-time education for more than three years. Fees exist for those outside the young student definition, typically from £1,200 to £1,800 for undergraduate courses, dependent on year of application and type of qualification. Postgraduate fees can be up to £3,400.
The system has been in place since 2007 when graduate endowments were abolished. Labour's education spokesperson Rhona Brankin criticised the Scottish system for failing to address student poverty. Scotland has fewer disadvantaged students than England, Wales or Northern Ireland and disadvantaged students receive around £560 a year less in financial support than their counterparts in England do.
Like their English counterparts, Welsh universities are able to charge up to £9,250 a year in tuition fees. However, Welsh students can apply for fee grants of up to £5,190, in addition to a £3,810 loan to cover these costs. This system also applies to Welsh students who study elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
If Peter Black spin is correct then it is most welcome though the reality may be somewhat different, but maybe their sole Liberal Democrat in the Welsh Assembly and a minister in not a coalition Labour Government actually deserves some credit in what has been a rather lacklustre performance from the former La Pasionaria that is Kirsty Williams.
But as the Lib Dems continue with a revival we can expect the likes pf Peter Black to claim that they are transforming Wales through their sole minister.
Personally I think we should take every claim they make with a pinch of salt.