Henry suggests organisation providing "cover" for SNP Government
They are traditionally viewed as political allies, with several former student presidents going on to become elected Labour politicians, but NUS Scotland and Scottish Labour have differed over student support funding and tuition fees.
Speaking to Holyrood, Labour shadow education spokesman Hugh Henry claimed NUS Scotland was providing political “cover” for the SNP Government over next year’s ‘minimum income guarantee’ student support package, and had “agreed to a reduction in real income for poorer students.”
Henry said: “We need to remember that this so-called student minimum income, which unfortunately the NUS have bought into, has seen a reduction in bursaries for poorer students – a 26 per cent reduction in bursary income and an increase in loans.”
Henry’s comments were rejected by NUS Scotland president Robin Parker, who told Holyrood: “The fact that from next year the poorest students in Scotland will have access to the best student support in the whole of the UK, with up to £7,250 per year in financial help, is great news.
“By increasing the money in students’ pockets, we can reduce the risk of drop out, and open up college and university to people from all backgrounds. Increased financial help will also mean that students no longer need to turn to pay-day loans or commercial credit just to get them through their courses. This should be something Labour wholeheartedly welcome.
“If any party wants to go in to the next election with a promise of a return to living grants for all, they’d have our support. But until then, it’s clear that the tireless campaigning of students across Scotland on this important issue has paid off with real improvements.”
Separately, in an interview with Holyrood, NUS president Liam Burns has warned Scottish Labour against revising its policy on universal free university tuition. “I really hope they don’t go down this route, about [questioning] the public good of education, further and higher,” Burns says.
“You more [than get your] money back from having more graduates, you don’t get less. One of [the] things with universalism is, if you take it all away, then you will get parts of society that no longer accept that you redistribute to parts of society that need it.”