‘Student basic income’ proposed by finance review
Independent review of student support recommends students need a minimum of £8,100 a year
Glasgow Caledonian University - credit Jisc Infonet
Students at universities and colleges in Scotland should be given £8,100 as a basic income, an independent review has recommended.
In a new report commissioned by the Scottish Government, the independent review of student finance said the money should be a mix of loans or bursaries depending on an individual’s circumstances.
The minimum income entitlement would be a new “social contract” for students, while loans should be overhauled so that repayment thresholds and timescales are increased.
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The Scottish Government has said it will take time to consider the recommendations.
The review was chaired by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the chief executive officer of Virgin Money. She said the review had considered financial pressures on public budgets, but that a further £16m a year would be needed to meet the recommendations.
There are also more expensive options outlined in the report should further public funding become available.
“Our recommendations are based on a new social contract for students in Scotland,” she said.
“They would ensure that further and higher education are valued equally – with entitlement to support for students across both sectors. And in return, more students from diverse backgrounds will have the chance to become successful graduates, for the social and economic good of Scotland.”
Student leaders said “serious new investment” from government would be needed to attract those from more deprived backgrounds.
NUS Scotland president Luke Humberstone said: “It’s absolutely right that the Scottish Government have maintained their commitment to free tuition – but now we need to address the support available to students while they study.
“The government must now deliver a world leading student support system, to match our world leading education system.”
Teaching union the EIS said the government should consider returning to the grants system.
General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS believes that equal access to education should be a right for all, and that the ability to access further or higher education must always be based on the ability and willingness to learn and not on the capacity to pay.”
Susan Stewart, director of the Open University in Scotland, criticised the report for a lack of solutions for part-time students.
“The traditional path from school directly into full-time study at university is not right for everyone. Systems designed only to cater for that pathway will inevitably exclude many students,” she said.
“Widening access to higher education is not just fair but is also critical to the economic and social wellbeing of Scotland. We cannot do that with a narrow focus.
“I hope that in considering the recommendations of the review the Scottish Government will adopt a broader and more inclusive perspective on supporting all students, including those whose only option is studying part-time, and The Open University stands ready to help with that task.”
Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville, said: "The report sets out a number of recommendations that would fundamentally change the way students in Scotland are supported financially.
“It is only right that we now take the time to consider these recommendations in detail - and as part of current and future budget processes. We will set out our next steps in due course."
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