Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has reached out to students, pledging to rebuild a relationship tarnished by the broken pledge on tuition fees.
Mr Rennie emphasised his party’s record on higher education in Scotland as he sought to win back student support.
He is calling for the Scottish Government to raise the threshold for student loan repayment in Scotland to match that in England.
In 2012, UK leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg apologised for breaking the Liberal Democrats’ pre-election pledge to oppose any increase in tuition fees.
Mr Clegg was among 27 Lib Dem MPs who later voted in coalition government to allow English universities to charge annual fees of up to £9,000.
“We made a pledge, we didn’t stick to it and for that I am sorry,” he said in a video broadcast.
Mr Rennie will set out his case in a speech to Liberal Democrat student members at Dundee University today.
He said: “People often forget that it was the Liberal Democrats that won the battle to abolish tuition fees in Scotland in the face of strong opposition from the Labour Party who had just introduced them across the UK.
“It was the Liberal Democrats who supported the abolition of the graduate endowment in Scotland with opposition from Labour and the Conservatives.
“Of course, the debate over tuition fees in England has tarnished our strong relationship with students in Scotland but I am determined to rekindle it.”
Currently, students in England begin to repay student loans when they earn more than £21,000, compared with a threshold of £16,910 for graduates in Scotland.
Mr Rennie said: “This means that graduates in England on lower incomes can be almost £400 better off each year. I want the SNP Government to match that threshold.
“It will make higher education more attractive and rewarding. It continues the Scottish Liberal Democrat record of delivering for students, in contrast with the SNP who took their eye off the ball with their campaign for independence.”
SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell said: “For Willie Rennie to start courting the votes of students after the way his party spectacularly betrayed them over tuition fees takes something of a brass neck and will fall on deaf ears as students – like the rest of Scotland – continue to reject his party.
“The Lib Dems are responsible for students south of the border being up to £9,000 per year worse off – and despite Willie Rennie’s shameless claims, their betrayal of students will continue to haunt them through the general election campaign and beyond.
“Scotland’s students won’t forget the way the Lib Dems ditched any pretence of principle in order to jump into bed with the Tories – and May’s election is the perfect opportunity to hold them to account on their history of broken promises.”