Monday 15-12-2014 - 11:57
The Scottish Funding Council has released statistics (see note 1) which show the extent of underfunding of FE student support bursary and childcare funds in Scotland’s colleges, as a result of its annual ‘in-year redistribution’ (IYR).
These student support funds are the only financial help available to FE students over the age of 19. Many rely on these for their living costs while they study full-time and childcare funds are there to support student parents to study, helping with childcare costs.
The IYR is an annual exercise which allows colleges to request additional bursary funds if they do not have enough to meet demand in-year. This year colleges stated they needed £14.7m more than the original budget provided by the SFC, with the SFC responding with £3.5m, leaving £11.2m of unmet demand. This is a 128% increase in unmet demand, rising from £4.9m of unmet demand last year.
NUS Scotland is very concerned that £11.2m of unmet demand will risk colleges closing their doors to new students, or risk colleges cutting financial support per person. NUS Scotland has launched its Stop Student Poverty (see note 2) campaign to call for increased funding for student support ahead of the final Scottish Government budget early next year.
Robert Foster, NUS Scotland vice-president education, said:
“These figures are extremely worrying for college students across Scotland. There's a huge shortfall in vital financial support for college students, to the tune of £11.2m, and we're really concerned that this could see colleges closing their doors to new students or individual students getting less financial support, or even none at all.
"Colleges support some of our most disadvantaged communities, so a shortage in these funds could be a disaster for those who rely on student support the most, including students with children trying to get back into education. The Scottish Government has invested additional money in the past and we must see them act this year too, as clearly funds are not keeping up with demand. We also need serious reform of the system so that students receive an entitlement to support, protecting them from budget shortages.
“The Scottish Government must find additional support funds for college students this year, and ensure that is continued for the future through the final budget vote, early next year. Without more money and reform of the student support system in colleges there is a real risk that students studying now will be hit extremely hard and we see that repeated, year after year.”
Join our campaign asking MSPs to put more money into the budget for student support at www.nus.org.uk/StopStudentPoverty