This figure, however, includes part-time, postgraduate and FE students who have had to pay all or part of their tuition fees for years. Free tuition for undergraduates alone would cost pound;145 million, the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals says.
Research commissioned by the principals for their submission to the committee of inquiry into student support, which met for the first time on Wednesday, suggests the Scottish Parliament would have to find at least pound;100 million to abolish fees. The Government's estimate is between pound;40 million and pound;60 million.
Ian Graham-Bryce, the principals' convener, renewed his plea for an end to "propaganda" over free tertiary education which had always been a myth for many students. Dr Graham-Bryce said the priority must be to help students in greatest need "and not to uphold half a principle".