Student financial support in Scotland: independent review

Recommendations for improving the higher and further education student support system.

A New Social Contract for Students Summary of Recommendations

Our recommendations are:

Fair funding

  • Entitlement to a Minimum Student Income of £8,100 in both further and higher education
  • Delivered through a mix of bursaries and student loans, with means-testing of bursaries to target support for those from the poorest backgrounds
  • Student loans available in further education
  • Further education loans written off in full for those transitioning from further to higher education
  • Student loan terms enhanced by:
    − Repayment threshold being increased to £22,000
    − Write-off period for student loans being shortened from 35 to 30 years
    − Low interest rates continuing (lowest of RPI or 1% above Bank of England base rate)


  • Common funding system across further and higher education, with local face-to-face support
  • Common data system and a central budget for student support
  • Flexibility for students around when they would receive financial support


  • A single, centralised online portal to provide information to all students
  • Consistent guidance and communications for prospective students of all ages, parents and carers
  • Local support to help students navigate the system, especially those with more specialist needs
  • These recommendations are complemented by a proposed special support payment for students on benefits in further and higher education, similar to the approach already taken in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Costs to implement

  • To support the introduction of student loans in further education, the Scottish Government should provide an equal split of bursaries and loans for the poorest students in further education
  • This would provide an immediate and meaningful improvement in funding to students and would cost an additional £16m per year
  • There are other options, some of which would cost less and some more


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