THE Scottish Tories are considering abandoning their opposition to free university tuition amid concerns the policy is preventing them from taking power at Holyrood, reports claim.

It is understood to be one of the areas under review in work being carried out by Conservative MSP Donald Cameron to prepare the party’s manifesto for 2021.

“There are a number of us in the party that believe the policy should change as things stand,” a party source told the Scotsman.

Currently the Scottish Conservatives back a £6000 “graduate fee”. However, the policy is not a vote winner – prompting figures to consider whether it should be ditched.

Scottish students get free university tuition north of the Border, as do students from other EU countries, but those from England, Wales and Northern Ireland have to pay. In England, the fees cost up to £9250 per year, making it the most expensive place to study in Europe.

A poll ahead of the 2016 Holyrood election found voters favoured the SNP policy, giving it a rating of 8.1 out of 10. Only a pledge to raise NHS funding received a higher rating.

Backing free university tuition would mark a dramatic departure from Tory orthodoxy and draw the clearest dividing line yet between the Tories in Scotland and in England.

Ahead of the 2017 General Election, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson embraced another SNP policy which she previously opposed, announcing her party would no longer seek to reintroduce prescription charges.

An SNP spokesman said: “Just like on prescription charges, the Tories have railed against SNP policy for years, but now seem to be realising that their plan to whack a price tag on education is deeply unpopular. The SNP scrapped tuition fees – in contrast with the Tories’ record in England where young people face tuition fees of £9000 a year.”

A Scottish Tory spokesman said: “As with every party, we are undertaking a policy review and we will set out our proposals in the run-up to the 2021 Holyrood election.”

UCAS figures last year recorded an increase in the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds being accepted to university. They revealed the number of successful applications from students in deprived areas was up 5% for all ages and 9% for 18 year olds.