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Free education can't just be about the price tag

Thursday 29-10-2015 - 13:44

First Minister’s Questions this week was dominated by discussion of student finance and funding, in response to figures released this week by the Student Awards Agency Scotland showing increases in average student debt (see, http://www.saas.gov.uk/_forms/statistics_1415.pdf). NUS Scotland previously welcomed increases in student support, but following the publication of these figures reiterated the need to see increased grants, for the poorest students particularly.

Commenting on FMQs, Vonnie Sandlan, president of NUS Scotland, said:

“NUS Scotland and students worked incredibly hard to see increased student support. While increases would have been preferable in grants, rather than loans, no increase at all would have been unacceptable, with students now guaranteed a minimum income. However, as statistics released this week show starkly, we need to see increased grants for the poorest students particularly.

“It’s right that we’ve maintained free education in Scotland, but that can’t just be about the price tag. We need to look at the wider cost of studying, and how students are supported in education. Without access to the necessary financial support, students are forced to turn to commercial debt, take on unreasonable amounts of part-time work, or even drop out of education altogether. That’s simply a huge waste of some of our brightest potential, and a huge waste for our country.

“As we look ahead to the Scottish budget then elections next year, we want to see all Scottish parties take a strong stand on tackling student debt and poverty. NUS Scotland will be campaigning for improved support for all students, with an unambiguous focus on increasing the amount of grants going to the poorest students particularly. At the same time, we can’t forget that students in further education still struggle by on a discretionary bursary in desperate need of reform and investment.” 

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NUS Scotland

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