Policy actions  1 of 3

Financial support for students

We believe education should be based on the ability to learn, not to pay, and are providing record levels of support for students in higher and further education.

Support for higher education students

We are protecting free tuition and are also committed to providing an annual minimum income for the least well-off students in higher education (£7,625 in 2018-2019).

Scottish domiciled students studying at a Scottish university are entitled to apply for a package of bursary and loan support, based on household income.

Support includes:

  • a full bursary (£8,100 from 2018) for students under 26 with care experience
  • a non-income assessed student loan of £4,750 a year for all students
  • up to £10,000 extended support for postgraduate students for any taught course up to full masters level
  • continued support for disabled students through the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)

In addition, we are working to raise the repayment threshold for student loans so that, by April 2021, graduates do not start to repay loan debt until they are earning £25,000 per year. We are also committed to reducing the student loan repayment period from 35 to 30 years, from 2018. 

Further information is available at the Scottish Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) which adminisers higher education student funding.

Support for further education students

We are providing record levels of support to further education students.

In 2018 to 2019 we are investing over £111 million through the Scottish Funding Council in college bursaries, childcare and discretionary (hardship) funds, a real-terms increase of 33% since 2006 to 2007.

Students attending college at further education level can receive a non-repayable bursary of up to £98.79 per week.

We also offer Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) to young people from low income families to help them stay on in post-16 education either at school or college.

For information on student funding see: Costs of learning: student funding guide 2019 to 2020

Student Support Review

In 2016 we commissioned the Student Support Review (SSR). This was an independent review into the student support system for further and higher education, to make it less complex and easier to understand. The review group was independently chaired by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO Virgin Money, and published its final report on 20 November 2017. The independent review was announced in our A plan for Scotland: the Scottish Government's programme for Scotland 2016-2017.

As part of the process, the review group published a consultation paper asking for ideas for improving how students access, receive, manage and understand the support they receive, as well as surveying more than 3,500 students and holding a number of focus groups across Scotland. The results of these and other evidence gathering exercises the group carried out have been published alongside the final report.

The Scottish Government responded to the independently chaired SSR in June this year. In response to the SSR’s recommendations, Scottish Ministers announced that over £21 million will be invested per year in improving student support by the end of this parliamentary term. This will provide an increase in bursaries for full-time FE/HE care-experienced students to £8,100 per year in 2018/19. Further to that, £16 million will be invested in 2019/20 to increase bursaries for students from the lowest income families across FE and HE; deliver a guaranteed bursary for eligible students in FE and increase the HE bursary income threshold to support access. It was also announced that the HE student loan repayment threshold will increase to £25,000 from 2021.

Ministers recognise that there are a number of recommendations made by the Review which require further work and have committed to considering those. These include a commitment that the Scottish Government will work with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to explore the recommendation for a ‘Special Support’ system for students eligible for social security benefits whilst studying, further consider of the recommendation that loans should be introduced to FE with external focus group research underway, and consider the recommendation that students should have more choice on the timing of their payments, particularly in HE.

We will also be conducting a review of non-core and discretionary support which will include support for part-time students. A consultation will be launched to inform this work as Ministers are keen to hear from students directly.

Archive content

To access information that was on the previous website see the archive of universities and colleges content.

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