Tuition fees in England and Wales have been mired in broken promises. Instead of keeping fees low, the Tories have bumped them up, making it much harder for students from deprived backgrounds and areas to access higher education. If the First Minister is re-elected, will she commit to maintaining free tuition? Does she agree that students should not leave university with a mountain of debt before they have even started work?
Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with Sandra White. As long as I am First Minister, there will be no tuition fees in Scotland. That is a commitment that I make very strongly, and I say that not just politically but personally. Had there been tuition fees when I was younger, it is unlikely that I would have gone to university. Having had the opportunity of a university education, it would be wrong for me to take that opportunity away from others.
Sandra White has raised this question and I think it is appropriate that she has done so in what will be her final contribution in the chamber. Sandra White represents a large number of students and has represented them extremely well, as she has represented her entire constituency. She and I have been colleagues from Glasgow in the Parliament since 1999. She has made an outstanding contribution. She is a great colleague and a great friend, and we are going to miss her greatly. I wish her all the best in her retirement.