SCOTTISH Labour are being urged to clarify their stance on tuition fees after an MSP appeared to support “backdoor” charges.

Michael Marra suggested his party will need to examine models that would reintroduce some form of charges.

Speaking at the Scottish Labour conference at the weekend, he insisted that “we are not talking about tuition fees but we are talking about having to find a new formula, a new away of addressing that system”.

Pressed on what that would look like – during a fringe event organised by Dundee University – he said: “There’s lots of models across Europe. So there’s post-hoc in terms of after the event, things that we had previously whether it be graduate taxes, whether it be endowments.”

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The graduate endowment was brought in by Labour when they were in government in Scotland and saw students pay a £2000 fee after graduation.

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith also came out in support of bringing it back last month, insisting free tuition for Scottish domiciled students was “not sustainable”. This was despite her party backing free tuition fees in 2021.

The SNP said the Tories are “in complete chaos” over their stance on fees, and have now called on Anas Sarwar’s party to confirm what their stance is following Marra’s comments.

SNP MSP Ruth Maguire said: “Labour must urgently clarify their plans for tuition fees in Scotland. 
“Whether up front or by the backdoor, the impact is the same – it is clear that only the SNP will stand up for Scottish students and ensure a university education remains free.
“Free tuition has made an enormous difference in getting more people in Scotland into higher education, especially those from the most deprived communities.

“That Labour would look to snatch away these opportunities and burden students with a bill of potentially thousands of pounds is outrageous and shows how far removed they are from Scotland’s values.
“With Labour and the Tories now both seemingly planning to impose backdoor tuition fees, it’s clearer than ever that neither of the Westminster parties are working for Scotland’s students.”

Since the SNP abolished tuition fees, the number of Scottish first-time full-time degree entrants has grown by 31% with a record number of students from deprived communities going to university.
Last year, First Minister Humza Yousaf rejected calls from the University of Edinburgh head professor Peter Mathieson to give “calm consideration” to tuition fees.

He said at the time: “I have a lot of time for the principal of Edinburgh University, but I believe that education, university education in particular, should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.”