Education has always been close to the heart of the Church of Scotland. The General Assembly last week heard debates on state funding for religious schools, school closures, theological training and university tuition fees. Neil Munro reports
* The Church of Scotland continues to set its face against any charges in higher education.
The Assembly reaffirmed its stance that "higher education at undergraduate level should be free at the point of delivery and that the state should provide funding, for example either by increased personal taxation, or by increasing corporate taxation, or both".
Andrew Blake, the education convener, told the commissioners: "When a child starts school at five years of age, the community readily accepts that this provision should be available free. For school pupils who continue beyond the statutory leaving age of 16, there is little dissent that the community should also pay for this stage.
"Why then, should the principle change when the student enters higher education? Sometimes, we feel, the debate confuses the issue of state funded education with the issue of student maintenance."