Student financial support in Scotland: independent review

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

Appendix B: Building the evidence base: consultation

The Board commissioned a public consultation. This ran for 62 days, from 30 June to 31 August 2017.

We received nearly 100 responses from a diverse range of individuals and organisations, including student associations, universities and colleges and special interest groups. To ensure independence of the analysis, the results were analysed by Why Research Ltd.

Respondent profile:
Student representation 17
Inclusion groups and organisations 11
Colleges 9
Universities 7
Unions (staff) 3
Other 5
Total organisations 52
Individuals 46
Total respondents 98

The responses

Greater alignment of financial support for students

  • Most respondents felt there should be parity in funding levels for all students.
  • One theme was the need for bursary funding to be means-tested. Respondents wanted to see this for both further and higher education.
  • Many respondents felt that means-testing household or personal income was an effective way to determine need.
  • In respect of benefits, many respondents stressed that students should not be worse off because they are in education.

A simplification and clarification of the systems

  • The key features that may deter or make it more difficult for students to access or stay in college or university are:
    - bureaucracy (for example, the length and complexity of the application process);
    - finance (such as worry over the burden of debt); and
    - concern over the 100% attendance rule for further education students – especially for students with children.
  • Ideas put forward for how the administration of student support funding could be improved and made fairer for all students at college or university were:
    - the ability for students to be able to spread their funding payments over 12 months or to have access to a discretionary fund over the summer period; and
    - the need for consistency and for clear, up to date information.
  • In relation to improving the way in which financial support is delivered to students at college or university, respondents commented on the need:
    - to ensure no delays to payments;
    - for a living wage; and
    - for any system to be flexible enough to respond to individual circumstances.

Better communication of the funding available

  • Suggestions for the type of information on funding that would be helpful to students included:
    - an online calculator;
    - clear and concise information;
    - tailored, rather than generic, advice; and
    - the need for information to be made available through schools.

Further consideration of the levels of funding required

  • Most respondents said that a ‘minimum income’ guarantee should be introduced across all students.


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