Student support changes revealed by Scottish Government

Written by Tom Freeman on 13 June 2018 in News

Student support review will changes thresholds to loan repayments and see £16m invested in bursaries for poorer studnets

Shirley-Anne Somerville

More support will be available for students under plans revealed by the Scottish Government.

In a statement to MSPs, further and higher education minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said the threshold for repaying students loans would rise by £3,000 to £25,000.

The maximum repayment period for student loans will also be cut from 35 to 30 years.

The bursary for care-experienced students will be increased to £8,100, the level of the Living wage.

Somerville said ministers “share the Review’s ambition to achieve this level of support for all students”, but did not give a timescale as to when this would be realised.

Next year £16m will be invested into more bursaries and grants for university and college students from low-income families, she added.

The package of measures comes after an independent review of student support was published last year.

Somerville said: "I want Scotland's student support system to be focused on the poorest students. This complements our wider ambitions to reduce child poverty and widen access to university."

Sector bodies welcomed the announcement.

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: "We are pleased that the plight of college students has been heard.

"Student support funding is vital in helping many students, particularly from poorer backgrounds, to access high-quality courses that lead to recognised qualifications and allow them to progress towards employment and their future careers."

Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland and Open University director Susan Stewart welcomed commitments to look at ways to better support part time students.

Stewart said: “We can’t widen access to higher education with a narrow focus on full-time students alone. Part-time study enables students with busy lives to participate in higher education, widening access for people in work, with disabilities, or with family and other caring responsibilities.”

NUS Scotland President Luke Humberstone said the announcement was only “the first step” in necessary reform.

“Introducing an entitlement to bursary support for further education students signals the long overdue end to a system that has left students with no entitlement to funding and therefore, no guarantee that they’ll be able to pay the bills if they enter education,” he said.

“Equally, investment in bursary for the poorest students is a positive step towards lifting the burden of debt which disproportionately rests on those from the poorest backgrounds.

 “While we welcome the Government stating an ambition to move towards a system where every student receives a funding tied to the real living wage we need to see a clear plan to achieve this shared goal.”

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