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Student support

Higher education

Aims

As part of the post-16 reform programme, and in line with manifesto commitments, we’re aiming to simplify the student support system and have also committed to delivering an annual £7,250 minimum income for students, starting with those from lowest income backgrounds. 

Simplification of the student support system is intended to make it less complex and easier to understand both for students and their families as well as improving the efficiency of delivery. 

Progress

On 22 August 2012 the Cabinet Secretary for Education confirmed that Scottish students will benefit from the best and simplest support package available in the UK. 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
  • A non-income assessed student loan of £4,500 a year which all students, irrespective of circumstances, will be eligible for.

While developing this policy we worked with students across Scotland, as well as NUS and other organisations, to develop our understanding of student opinion around a range of issues.

The following table sets out the levels of support available according to family income:

 

Young students (aged under 25 at start of course)

Independent students (25 or older, married or self supporting at start of course)

Family income

Bursary

Loan

Total

Bursary

Loan

Total

< £17k

£1.75k

£5.5k

£7.25k

£750

£6.5k

£7.25k

£17k to £24k

£1k

£5.5k

£6.5k

£0

£6.5k

£6.5k

£24k to £34k

£500

£5.5k

£6k

£0

£6k

£6k

> £34k

£0

£4.5k

£4.5k

£0

£4.5k

£4.5k

We have also looked at simplifying support arrangements for postgraduate study, and will be introducing a Postgraduate Student Allowances Scheme (PSAS) in 2012-13. The new scheme will provide access to a Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan of £3,400 for an extra 2,300 full and part-time Scottish postgraduate students towards the cost of their tuition fees. 

Next steps

We are now working with the student population to ensure they’re aware of the new system and what it means for them. The first awards under the new system will be paid in August 2013.

 

Part-time students

Aims

Our aim is to establish a more flexible support system for students undertaking part-time higher education study.

This will provide more flexible learner-led provision, streamlined administration and be more accountable in meeting the needs of learners.

Progress

Part-time students from the lowest income households will now be able to have the full cost of their tuition fees met by the Scottish Government.  This brings them into line with the arrangements for full-time students. From 2013 part-time students with a family income of less than £25,000 will receive full support for tuition fees.

Next steps

We are now talking to students and institutions about the new system and what it means for them.

Further education

Current system

Full-time students can receive a non-repayable bursary of up to £91.30 a week, depending upon age, family circumstances and income and provided certain residency conditions are met.  Additional allowances are available for eligible students who are carers for another adult through the Dependant's Allowance and also for students who have childcare costs through the Childcare Fund.

Aims

We want student support arrangements for further education students to be fairer, simpler and more affordable. 

Progress

We are currently considering the issues of both a discretionary and entitlement system. We are also exploring how planned changes to the benefits system and the introduction of the new “Universal Credit” by the Westminster Government will impact on non-advanced bursary support.

To date we have met with a number of organisations within the further education sector to explore how the current system works in practice and what improvements could be made. These have  included colleges in both rural and urban locations, and we have taken into account a range of student demographics, for example areas of social deprivation. We have also been working with Scotland's Colleges, the SFC and the NUS.

Next steps

Our next steps are to continue consultation with stakeholders and to explore a range of options for fairer distribution of the FE student support budget.