Student financial support in Scotland: independent review

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

The importance of education

This Review has been undertaken against a context of increasing debate and political controversy over student fees, particularly in England. The Scottish Government’s policy of funding free tuition provides a solid foundation on which to build a strong student social contract. Students in Scotland face lower levels of average debt compared to their English counterparts. In 2017 in Scotland, the average loan balance at the start of repayment was £11,740. The equivalent balance in England was £32,220 [3] .

This Board argues that investment in education will benefit both society and individuals. Not only is it essential for the economy and national prosperity, it is a powerful agent for social progression and contributes to cultural life and civil society. For these reasons we believe more can and should be done to support students through their studies in Scotland.

The economic and social benefits of further and higher education

  • It is estimated that every £1 of public investment in further and higher education leads to almost £6 of economic impact in Scotland and the UK [4] . The return on investment figure for higher education is £6 and for further education it is £5.70.
  • Participating in tertiary education enables individuals from lower income backgrounds and their families to enter higher skilled and better paid jobs.
  • For business to flourish in Scotland it needs to rely on a supply of skilled, well qualified people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
  • Aside from economic benefits, we believe that achieving equality of educational opportunity is essential in the maintenance of social and political cohesion. Education is also a powerful enabler of social mobility. In short, we believe education has the power to transform lives.


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