Access to fact-based truth in society is a more pressing need than ever, Scotland’s Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy has insisted. 

Kate Forbes MSP said that at a time when debate within society is becoming increasingly polarised, the ability to read reliable information would be vital.

Her comments came as The Herald launched a new initiative to provide free access to heraldscotland.com across all colleges and universities in Scotland. 

It means any student or staff member who logs on to heraldscotland.com while connected to their campus wifi can read its content free of charge.

“Access to information, knowledge, fact and truth is more pressing than ever before,” she said, “and with The Herald’s initiative they can provide that access to students and employees, which will hopefully set good habits for years to come."

She added: “The Herald understands that easy access is critical.”

HeraldScotland:

The new open access project is sponsored by CGI, a technology consultancy group, and made possible by IT company JISC, who provide digital solutions for the UK education and research sector.

The Herald has a long and strong relationship with Scotland’s leading educational establishments. As part of our commitment to this sector we have implemented subscription free access on campus to HeraldScotland.com. This service is available to every single higher educational establishment student and employee in Scotland.

To enable this, we are waiving our standard £70 annual subscription access fee. This is no small technical or financial commitment, made possible by our partners JISC, and sponsored by CGI. Both we and they share your passion for education and understand the need to fully equip the next generation with the most trusted quality sources of news and information – to give them every possible advantage for their future.

Steve Smart, Senior Vice President of CGI’s operations in Scotland, said: “in the digital world we live in, having instant access to up to date news and information is vital, so being involved in providing this for students and academia across Scotland is something that CGI is very pleased to support.”

Speaking at the official launch of the initiative at the City of Glasgow College, Donald Martin, Editor-in-Chief of The Herald, said the 239-year-old newspaper and heraldscotland.com website are a place of learning in themselves too.

He said: “In this world of mis-information are we assessing the evidence and forming an opinion based on agreed facts and an understanding formed through unbiased scrutiny?

“Or do we simply exist within an echo chamber and hold a view based on what we want to hear?”

These vital questions are “at the heart of this fantastic initiative” granting free access to higher education students, Mr Martin added. 

Ms Forbes added there is a “hunger” in society for facts and to hold politicians to account.

“But that should be based on truth and there is no better way than giving the public easy access to content,” she said.