Scottish students to receive new funding benefits
Scottish students will benefit from the best funding package available in the UK with enhanced support and free tuition, Education Secretary Michael Russell announced on Wednesday.
On top of current benefits such as free tuition, the new package, to be introduced in 2013 includes:
* An annual minimum income of £7,250, through a combination of bursaries and loans, for students with a family income of less than £17,000
* All students, irrespective of circumstances, will be eligible for a student loan of £4,500 a year - as requested by NUS Scotland who want to see more cash in student pockets
* Part-time students with a personal income of less than £25,000 will now receive full support for tuition fees as a proportion of the full-time fee equivalent
Mr Russell made the announcement at Glasgow University’s REACH programme which helps young people realise their ambition to attend university. He said: “Scotland is the only country in the UK with free higher education. It is the only country to see an increase in the number of young people applying for courses as well as the highest number of students ever accepted into our universities on Higher results day. This is tremendous news and a clear vindication of our policy of no tuition fees.
“Today, I am delighted to announce changes which will enhance the offer by ensuring that Scottish students can access the best and most straightforward package of student support in the UK.
“We know that studying at university costs money and that this can put some people off from applying. That is why I have worked with our partners, including NUS Scotland, to review our system of student support.
“A minimum income of £7,250 will be available to those from the lowest income households and I expect this will benefit around 45,000 students each year. While improved availability of loans and equal support for part-time students, alongside free tuition, will help ensure that all those with potential can go to university and achieve their goals, in turn playing a key role in improving our economy in years to come.”
The revised arrangements for student support will be introduced for all students in academic year 2013/14.
Robin Parker, NUS Scotland President, said: “The announcements are a huge step forward and a victory for years of campaigning by countless students across Scotland.
"From next year, Scotland will have the best support package in the whole of the UK available to college and university students studying at higher education level.
“We’ve always said that getting an education should be about your ability, not your ability to pay. If students don’t have enough money to get by then we know their studies can suffer, too often taking on too much paid work, getting into commercial debt, or worst of all dropping out.
"We need to provide enough support to students in order to get the most out of our most talented people, and we hope these announcements will do just that.
“Abolishing fees, protecting places and improving student support are the foundations on which we can achieve fair access.
"We will now work incredibly hard to build on this progress to ensure higher education in Scotland becomes genuinely open to people from all backgrounds, achieving fair access based on your potential not your background, and ensuring that the announcements from Government today are met by action from institutions over the coming months and years to achieve fair access."