After viewing the commemorative stone, which was carved and designed by second-year stonemasonry apprentices from Historic Scotland’s National Conservation Centre in Elgin, the First Minister said, “The single biggest achievement by this Government has been the abolition of tuition fees. This one action has restored Scotland’s long tradition of education being based on ability to learn – not the ability to pay.
“Scottish students can be assured this Government remains strongly committed to them and their futures - at a time when fees have soared to £9,000 a year in other parts of the UK, putting university out of reach for many without the means to pay.
“At the same time, we have boosted apprenticeship numbers to record levels, brought more women into the workforce and are outperforming the rest of the UK on job numbers as whole.
“It is both fitting and humbling to have this wonderful monument to that commitment created by young skilled apprentices - and to have the unveiling witnessed by students of today and children who will be the students of tomorrow.
“It is without doubt now a commitment writ in stane.”
Weighing 0.97 tonnes, it was carved by apprentice stonemasons Gregor Alcorn, 26, and Ross Kennedy, 22, from Clashach Sandstone – the same stone used in the building of the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. It was handpicked from Tennants Quarries in Elgin by training manager Graham Campbell who, along with other members of the team, also created the design for the stone.
Professor Steve Chapman, Principal of Heriot-Watt University, said: “We are delighted to host this stone, a beautifully crafted piece and a monument to Alex Salmond’s tenure as First Minister and his strongly held commitment to access to education for Scottish students.”