The Liberal Democrats have always recognised the important contribution that education makes to the whole of society. Education opens the mind, nurtures understanding and tolerance, and it empowers our children and our communities. We believe every child deserves a great start in life, so they can choose how to shape their own future.
This election is a chance to change the direction of the country, and it’s also a chance to reset the priorities of the SNP Government, to focus on making our education the best again. For ten years, SNP ministers’ obsession with independence has been at the expense of everything else. There is no greater evidence of the toll this has taken than in neglect of Scottish education: Scotland used to have one of the best education systems in the world but now it is just average. It recently recorded its worst ever ranking in reading, maths and science. This is not good enough.
We need to invest in education to help people achieve their potential, open doors and build a high-wage, high-skill economy. Providing young people with a world-class education will underpin our country’s economic future. That is why Liberal Democrats in Scotland will continue to make the case for a “Penny for Education”, securing a transformative £500 million investment for education.
To get Scottish education back to the best in the world again we will expand early year’s education, giving every child the best start in life and providing parents with the flexibility they need; support the establishment of a properly funded Pupil Premium, giving extra support and lifting attainment in every classroom; protect our world-class universities from the impact of a hard Brexit; and repair our colleges, giving everybody lifelong opportunities to learn.
Our plan to keep Scotland at the heart of the UK, and the UK at the heart of Europe, will ensure that Scotland continues to be able to access above average research funding, and continue the collaborations between Scottish and European universities which have brought so many benefits to Scotland.
We will ensure the UK, and Scotland in particular, are attractive destinations for overseas students. We will reinstate post-study work visas for graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths who find suitable employment within six months of graduating. We will give the Scottish Government the right to sponsor additional post-study work visas.