Scotland is often overlooked not only by the rest of the UK but also by the rest of the world. Not only is Scotland a country home to a number of life-changing inventors such as James Watt who invented the steam engine, Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone, and Alexander Fleming who invented penicillin and insulin but Scotland is also one of the most progressive countries in the world, and here is why.
1. Free higher education for all Scottish citizens
Ever since 1962 when university fees were abolished in the UK, Scotland has had the benefit of free higher education. In the late 1990’s the UK government said they were bringing these fee’s back for students to pay, however, Scotland has its own government and they were not interested in making Scottish students pay their tuition fees. In 2013, Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland said “rocks would melt in the sun” before he’d contemplate introducing tuition fees. In Scotland, you can get up to 5 years of higher education paid for by Student Award Agency Scotland (SAAS) and a student loan to help you along the way and after you have graduated from your course, whether it’s college or university, and are making more than £18,935 per year (although in 2021 the threshold is rising to £25,000) and will pay an average of 10% of your wages to SAAS. If you wish to study another course after your five years are up there are still ways to get this partly funded by the government, although it is likely that you will need to fund a portion of the course by yourself.
2. Free meals for school children
Ever since January 2015, all children in their first three years of primary school, provided it is a local council school and not a privately funded school, will receive a free meal at school every day regardless of their background or guardian’s income. After the first three years of primary school, children whose parents meet certain criteria’s such as receiving universal credit etc, can also receive a free school meal each day until they leave secondary school.
3. Free Sanitary Products
In an attempt to battle period poverty, Scotland has offered free sanitary products to all students in secondary schools, colleges, and universities for the last 10 months and all women living on low-income can receive free sanitary products from a charity called FareShare. This has been in place for the last year all over Scotland after a pilot scheme in Aberdeen took place in 2018 and was deemed a success, benefitting approximately 18,000 women.
4. The Baby Box
All babies born on and after the 15th of August 2017 in Scotland from all backgrounds will receive a baby box courtesy from the Scottish government completely free of charge to help parents with the cost of new-born babies. Each box contains: a poem written by Jackie Kay called “Welcome Wee One”, a digital ear thermometer, a pair of scratch mittens, a short sleeved vest, a long sleeved vest, a reusable waterproof nappy with 5 stay dry nappy pads, a long sleeved side buttoning vest, a cotton hat, a long sleeved sleepsuit, 2 pairs of jersey trousers, a pair of socks, an all in one day suit, a fleece jacket with a hood, a mattress that fits into the box provided and a mattress protector as the babies can sleep safely and comfortably in the boxes, a fitted sheet, a cellular blanket, a baby wrap, a hooded bath towel, a bath sponge, a bath and room thermometer, a teething ring soother, two baby books, a play mat, emery boards, a bib, 3 muslin cloths, a comforter toy, a travel changing mat, a pack of disposable nursing pads, a pack of maternity towels, two boxes of three condoms, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Aster App which has some soothing music to help settle your new-born. The Baby Box Parent Club website also has lots of great tips and information for new parents. Scotland is currently the only country in the world that offers this to new-borns and parents and is not limited, meaning that if a woman gives birth to twins or triplets, each baby will still receive their own baby box.
5. Introducing Plastic Deposit Return Scheme
In a yet unconfirmed exact date, the Scottish government are set to become the first country in the UK to introduce a deposit return scheme for drink cans and bottles. All drinks will not have a 20p deposit (meaning the prices will go up by 20p) and can be returned once used to widely available collection points to get their 20p back and send their rubbish off for recycling. This has already been adopted in many countries in Europe but after pressure on the Scottish government from lobbying activist groups such as Surfers Against Sewage, it has been set to be put into action before March 2021.