SNP reaffirmed its commitment to free tuition after claiming that a vote for the Tories in May would put an end to free higher education in Scotland.

George Adam MSP, member of the education and culture committee of the Scottish Parliament, said:“The Tories have taken a wrecking ball to higher education in England – as long as there is an SNP Government in Scotland, education will never become the market-driven, wealth-determined lottery it has become south of the border.”

He made the comments after Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson pledged an extra £60 million to Scotland’s colleges as the party sets out its election platform.

Extra college places would be paid for by introducing a graduate contribution to raise funds from university leavers.

However, Adam hit back: “This announcement from Ruth Davidson confirms that a vote for the Tories in May is a vote to end free higher education in Scotland.

“The Tories claim that their colleges policy will be funded ‘in its entirety’ by a graduate contribution – but without any detail about how much students would be expected to pay, or exactly when they would have to start paying it, their colleges policy has absolutely no credibility.

“It is also completely unacceptable to leave young people considering going to university in the dark about what it will cost them.

“With Labour all over the place on university tuition fees, and the Lib Dems almost wiped out because of their broken promises to students – it is clear that only a vote for the SNP in May’s election can safeguard Scotland’s proud tradition of free higher education.”

National Union of Students Scotland president, Vonnie Sandlan, stressed the need for colleges and universities to be properly, and publicly, funded.

He said: “While it’s encouraging to see a recognition from the Scottish Conservatives about the need to address college funding, this proposal drags us back to an old, tired debate.

“It’s right that parties look to improve college funding and student support, but that can’t be done by pitting universities against colleges, or further education students against higher education students.”

Davidson said her party did not want students in Scotland to have to pay university tuition fees that can cost students south of the border up to £9,000 a year.

She added: “This is the Scottish Conservative alternative at this election.

“No £9,000-a-year tuition fee as we see in England - instead, a fair contribution made by Scottish graduates helping to pay for a stronger college sector.” ends.