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NUS Scotland: Colleges request £5million extra support funding

Friday 27-01-2017 - 11:47

Colleges have received their full requested amount in the Scottish Funding Council’s annual in-year redistribution process, for the first time in recent history
NUS Scotland believes these figures “demonstrate the need for fundamental reform to the system

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has today released figures (see note 1) showing the extent of underfunding in further education (FE) student support, through its ‘in-year redistribution’ (IYR). The IYR is an annual exercise that allows colleges to request additional bursary funds, if they do not have enough to meet student demand. For the first time in recent history, the SFC have found the money to cover the requested £5.099 million in full this year.

However, these figures further demonstrate the need for fundamental reform to the system, showing that colleges faced a £5.099 million shortfall in the support budget. At the same time, the budget continues to be cash-limited, rather than on the basis of student need, giving rise to the need for the IYR. Moreover, while this presents some good news for colleges and students, the figures can be masked by, and don’t take account of: 

•    Many colleges paying 16-19 year old students the lower education maintenance allowance rather than a higher bursary;
•    Colleges transferring money from either core teaching budgets or their hardship funds to cover the shortfall in their student support budget. 
•    And, given the IYR is carried out in autumn, these figures will only include funds set aside for students who enrolled in September and a best case scenario for those starting in January – this could see student demand further increase.
•    Colleges have no certainty of receiving any money through the IYR – this gives rise to concerns that some could take a more risk-averse approach to allocating their budget at the start of the year, rather on simply student demand and need.  

Unlike their higher education counterparts, FE students have no guarantee to funding, with the system cash-limited and discretionary, meaning it works on the basis of money available as opposed to student need. Ahead of the draft Scottish budget starting its formal passage through Parliament, NUS Scotland is campaigning for additional money for FE student support to provide that much needed certainty for FE students.

Commenting, NUS Scotland President Vonnie Sandlan said:
“It’s encouraging to see that, for the first time in recent history, the Scottish Funding Council have been able to cover the requested In-Year Redistribution in full. This will undoubtedly provide much greater assurances, to both colleges and students. However, the end result still raises serious questions about the sustainability and effectiveness of a system that requires colleges to go cap in hand to the SFC on an annual basis, hoping enough money is available to meet their requirements. 

“Colleges support some of our most disadvantaged communities, and offer an excellent path back into education from those who, for whatever reason, may have previously missed out. And the far higher rates of drop out and unsuccessful completion in our colleges evidence the need to better support those students. That’s why it’s so concerning that college support budgets aren’t provided on the basis of student need, and instead rely on the SFC and colleges hoping that they’ll have enough money to support their students – something we know isn’t true most years. Today’s figures also don’t account for any internal redistributions that colleges have already undertaken to meet shortfalls, meaning that other areas of the student experience, like learning and teaching, could be suffering, while colleges try to ensure they can find the necessary money from somewhere.  

“Going forward, we need to ensure that colleges start the year with the necessary budget, to take away this uncertainty. The alternative is colleges that are more risk averse with their spending, to protect themselves in the years that the SFC can’t meet their requests. Ultimately, we need fundamental reform to the entire system, to ensure that all students have a guarantee that when they get to college they’ll have the support they need to stay, and thrive, in education. The current review of student support is exactly the process we need to achieve this – but we absolutely cannot forget about students studying here and now, who will never see the results of that review. In a positive move, following years of cuts, this year the Scottish Government provided a welcome increase for colleges through the draft budget. As yet, we’ve seen no indication of where that money will go, but these figures show that FE student support must be a high priority.” 
Ends.

For more information, contact Fergus Boden, NUS Scotland Press & Influencing Officer
E: Fergus.boden@nus-scotland.org.uk


Notes:
1.    In-year redistribution of student support funds for AY 2016-17: The below table shows the amount of additional funding for each college requesting for the full academic year; the amount they were allocated to the end of March; and the total additional funding they received 

Region /College

Additional funding

requested /

allocated for full AY

Additional funding

requested / allocated to end March 2017

Total additional funding allocated

Dundee & Angus

200,000

100,000

200,000

Fife

300,000

300,000

300,000

Forth Valley

562,000

361,083

562,000

Glasgow Region

1,114,867

831,867

1,114,867

City of Glasgow College

87,000

63,000

87,000

Glasgow Clyde College

230,000

130,000

230,000

Glasgow Kelvin College

797,867

638,867

797,867

Highland region

504,478

395,847

504,478

Inverness College

139,000

67,000

139,000

Lews Castle College

11,000

6,000

11,000

Moray College

203,813

193,622

203,813

North Highland College

85,225

85,225

85,225

Orkney College

9,440

5,000

9,440

Perth College

56,000

39,000

56,000

Lanarkshire

401,350

160,540

401,350

New College Lanarkshire

151,350

60,540

151,350

South Lanarkshire College

250,000

100,000

250,000

North East Scotland

1,149,821

873,865

1,149,821

West

250,000

250,000

250,000

West Lothian

308,000

308,000

308,000

Newbattle Abbey College

3,000

3,000

3,000

Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)

305,000

305,000

305,000

TOTAL

5,098,516

3,889,202

5,098,516

 

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