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SNP intent on pressing ahead with damaging university reforms
The SNP are intent on pressing ahead with damaging university reforms by refusing to support amendments to improve the Higher Education Governance Bill, the Scottish Conservatives said today.
Institutions including St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow – have previously criticised the bill, which would see universities lose autonomy and the Scottish Government take on more control over a range of matters.
But today, at the Education and Culture Committee, Angela Constance rejected amendments which would make the bill more acceptable to the higher education sector.
This included a refusal to exempt small specialist institutions such as the Royal Conservatoire and the Glasgow School of Art from the plans.
The bill is deeply unpopular with the sector, and only in the past week high profile individuals such as Edinburgh principal professor Tim O’Shea and the 18 chairs of university courts have spoken about their opposition to the plans.
The Scottish Conservatives are calling on the SNP government to improve their approach to this bill at stage 3 and work with the sector and opposition parties to put forward amendments that will make it more acceptable to the institutions that are expected to deliver these changes. 
Scottish Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said:
“Despite the fact that the bill after stage 2 remains an utter shambles, the SNP are intent on pressing ahead with deeply damaging reforms which will undermine the effective working of our higher education institutions.
“Instead of respecting the autonomy and diversity of the sector ministers want to impose a one size fits all structure so they can keep tighter control of what goes on in our universities. This point has been made to the Scottish Government time after time yet ministers will not listen.
“The Scottish Government has still produced no evidence to support why it considers the bill to be necessary and, at the same time, it has dismissed all the evidence from those in the sector who would be asked to deliver the changes.
“Worse still, the cabinet secretary claims that she has consulted widely but the fact is that there were absolutely no consultations between Universities Scotland and the Scottish Government between stages 1 and 2 of the bill.
“This is a very unusual situation and so it is little wonder that this bill has attracted such widespread condemnation.
“The SNP appear to think it is more important to try to dig out the cabinet secretary from the huge hole that she has created than it is to agree democratic, pragmatic and workable proposals.
“Unless there are radical changes to the Scottish Government’s approach to stage 3 this bill is in serious danger of doing long term damage to our universities, something that would be unforgivable.”

Good news for Scotland’s economy despite SNP ‘spreading doom’ on Brexit

Good news for Scotland’s economy despite SNP ‘spreading doom’ on Brexit

Unemployment has fallen substantially both in Scotland and the UK, despite the SNP “spreading doom” on the impact of Brexit.

New figures have revealed the number of people looking for a job north of the border has fallen by 14,000, while wages are also on the rise.

It means the unemployment rate fell to just 3.9 per cent for the period between June and August this year.

The UK-wide unemployment rate also fell considerably, and now stands at only four per cent.

The Office for National Statistics said pay rose by 3.1 per cent in the last quarter, outstripping the inflation level of 2.5 per cent.

The improved position comes despite the SNP relentlessly warning about the consequences of leaving the European Union.

Only yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke in London to speculate about the impact, and reiterated her desire to reverse the June 2016 vote.

However, the Scottish Conservatives have now told the SNP government to stop the scare-mongering, and start examining the opportunities which will be presented once the Brexit process is complete.


Scottish Conservative shadow economy secretary Dean Lockhart said:

“For all the Brexit-related scaremongering from the SNP, it appears the economy both in Scotland and the rest of the UK is performing well.

“This is in the face of an SNP government which is refusing to examine the opportunities of Brexit, and using it only to spread doom and rabble-rouse for independence.

“These figures do fluctuate, but this encouraging news at least suggests there could well be a good future for Scotland’s economy once we’ve left the European Union.”




Notes to editors:


The statistics were released this morning:

Sturgeon’s Brexit intervention all about independence

Sturgeon’s Brexit intervention all about independence

Nicola Sturgeon’s latest intervention on Brexit is motivated solely by the break-up of Britain, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

Speaking in London today, the First Minister reiterated her desire for the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union to be ignored, or at least for the UK to remain in the single market and customs union.

She also claimed any concession made to Northern Ireland should apply to Scotland.

However, Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said the SNP leader’s only reason for intervening was to push the case for another referendum on Scottish independence.

He pointed out there was nothing new in today’s speech, or indeed the accompanying paper being published by the SNP government.

Ms Sturgeon’s speech came on the same day as a new campaign for Scottish independence was launched.


Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said:

“There was absolutely nothing new in this speech from Nicola Sturgeon.

“As ever, she is not intervening for the sake of a good Brexit deal, or for the good of the Northern Ireland border issue.

“She made this speech in the hope of drumming up the prospects for Scottish independence.

“From the second the Brexit vote became clear, that has been the SNP government’s only motivation on this issue.

“If the SNP doesn’t back a deal, it is automatically supporting a no-deal scenario – something the nationalists have admitted would be bad for Scotland.

“And, of course, they don’t care if outcomes are bad for Scotland, so long as they’re good for the prospects of another independence referendum.

“This was just the latest opportunistic contribution from Nicola Sturgeon, whose behaviour on the Brexit process has been selfish and utterly shameless.”


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