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NUS Scotland: £2.4m pound shortfall in vital college support funds

Friday 29-01-2016 - 11:51

- Shortfall of £2.4m in FE bursary funds available to college students

- Shortfall occurs every year, and a clear indication of the need for additional funding and fundamental reform

 
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. This year’s IYR showed that, overall, colleges only had 43% of their requests met, leaving final shortfall of £2.4m in additional funding colleges need, over and above their original bursary budget.
 
These figures could be masked, however, by a many colleges paying 16-19 year old students the lower education maintenance allowance rather than a higher bursary, or transferring money from core budgets. Equally, the IYR is carried out In Autumn, meaning these funds will have been set aside for students who enrolled in September and before confirmation of January enrolments. This could see student demand further increase.
 
These student support funds are the only financial help available to FE students. 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. As the Scottish Budget makes its way through Parliament, NUS Scotland is campaigning for increased funding for student support in the short-term, with a longer term aim of fundamental reform.
 
Commenting, Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland president, said:
“These figures will be extremely worrying for college students across Scotland. Once again there’s a huge shortfall in vital financial support for college students. This could see colleges forced to take money from elsewhere, close their doors to new students, or individual students getting reduced support or even none at all. That would be a disaster for students.
 
“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. It’s obvious that funds are not keeping up with demand, something we see repeated every year with the consequences falling fully on students. It’s clear that the system isn’t just in need of more money, but a complete overhaul so that students receive an entitlement to support and we see an end to the continued problem of budget shortages.
 
“Every year, without fail, we see the same story unfold – bursary pots that are overstretched and underfunded. As the Scottish Budget makes its way through Parliament, additional support funds for college students must be found for this year and next. But more than anything, we need fundamental reform of the system to ensure this outdated, discretionary system is consigned to history, and college students have an entitlement to the funding they need and deserve.”
 …ends
 

For more information, contact:
Philip Whyte, Policy and influencing manager, 07554 451 941 | Fergus Boden, Press and influencing officer, 07876 831235

 
Notes:
1.    In-year redistribution of student support funds for AY 2015-16: The below table shows the amount of additional funding each college requested; the amount they were allocated by the SFC; the difference between these; and, the percentage of their request that was met.

 

College

Funds requested

Funds allocated

Difference

Request met

Region

£m

£

£

%

Ayrshire

473,863

188,000

285,863

40

Borders

131,659

117,953

13,706

48

Edinburgh

779,204

374,000

405,204

48

Glasgow (*)

287,897

115,000

172,897

40

Highland

646,336

312,000

334,336

48

New College Lanarkshire

476,160

229,000

247,160

48

South Lanarkshire

75,000

0

75,000

0

West College

1,105,000

437,000

668,000

40

West Lothian College

295,000

118,000

177,000

40

Total

4,256,412

1,830,000

2,426,412

43

         

(*) Glasgow requested £879,000 but received additional funding through European Social Funds. It was decided that these funds should be used for student support as a priority.

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