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Extra funding for college students welcome, but system still broken

Wednesday 28-01-2015 - 17:54

NUS Scotland has welcomed an announcement by the Scottish Government that additional funding will be provided to colleges to meet a shortfall in student support this year. 

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Angela Constance, announced that £7m would be provided to colleges this year to ensure there is sufficient funding in the student support budget to meet additional demand from students. This follows discussions with colleges that has seen an estimated shortfall of £11m in student support reduced to between £7-8m. 

While the announcement of extra funding this year is welcome, NUS Scotland has warned that it is only a short-term fix and still leaves in place a flawed system, underfunded for future years. Figures released by NUS Scotland earlier this month showed the extent of crisis in college student support, with colleges reporting the highest shortfall in student support for many years, and significant shortfalls year on year. 

While welcoming this short-term investment, NUS Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to use next week’s Budget vote to invest additional funding in student support not just this year, but for the long-term. 

Commenting on the announcement, Gordon Maloney, president of NUS Scotland, said:

“Today’s announcement that any shortfall in college bursary funds this year will be met is extremely welcome news for our students. With colleges previously reporting a shortfall of many million pounds there were real concerns that students starting their courses in January might see significantly reduced financial help or miss out entirely. We hope this will see college students through to the end of their courses this year, but at this stage the money won’t go beyond that. We must now find a solution in next week’s budget for next year and beyond.

“Extra money this year is a welcome, but short-term, fix and we need to see long-term investment and reform of the system to ensure we don’t continue to see a continual budget shortfalls. As NUS Scotland research earlier this month showed, not only are budget shortages a recurring problem, but one that’s been growing in recent years. We need students in colleges to have an entitlement to bursary support, and make sure shortages of funds are a thing of the past.

“It’s great news for our college students that the Scottish Government has found additional funding for this year, but that needs to be continued for the future, through the final budget vote next week. Without a commitment to more money and reform of the college support system for the years ahead there’s a real risk that future students will continue to be hit hard by budget shortages, carrying on the problems we’ve seen, year after year.”

Join NUS Scotland’s campaign calling on the Scottish Government to put more money into student support through the Scottish budget here: www.nus.org.uk/StopStudentPoverty 

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