Funding ensures access to education to all

Scotland’s mature or “independent” students are to benefit by over £1000 following the announcement of a new package of student funding by Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

The SNP welcomed the announcement which ensures education is an option for all and sees those most affected by recession gaining the biggest helping hand with grants of £1000 introduced for those over 25 or who have previously been in employment and £2 million set aside to support students with children. Independent students have previously only had access to loans.

Making the announcement in Holyrood Cabinet Secretary for Education, Fiona Hyslop said:

"Following detailed discussions with NUS Scotland, I can announce that student incomes will rise by up to £1,227 for independent students and up to £622 for dependent students and we will introduce a new grant for independent students - often mature students with their own families to support - to ensure they get the same help as other students. Overall, this will see the incomes of more than 75,000 students rise and help counter the impact of the recession on students who are finding it increasingly difficult to find part-time employment.

"We also intend, as we said we would, to increase the funding available for students with childcare needs and to increase the income assessed student loan by up to £442 next year.

"We have worked hard in close co-operation with NUS Scotland to ensure this money goes as far as possible and is targeted as effectively as possible. That's why we will increase the additional loan available to those students in greatest hardship. This demonstrates our determination to adapt our policies in the short-term to raise the income of students when part-time work is harder to come by, when banks are lending money on less favourable terms and when students and their families are facing the greatest financial pressures."

Welcoming the announcement, during which Ms Hyslop confirmed that the SNP Government rejects proposals from Labour and the Tories to charge for education, SNP MSP and Education Committee member Christina McKelvie said;

“Today’s announcement ensures education under an SNP Government is accessible to all. “That is why we scrapped the student tuition fee introduced by Labour and that is why today’s announcement will see funding directed to independent students and student parents.

“A £1000 grant for 14,000 independent students, £2 million for childcare as well as access to the same loan support for independent students as for young students will make a real difference to many hard working older students and student parents who are turning to education to ensure job security in the future.

“Importantly this money will help those studying for HNC's at our colleges as part of retraining in response to the recession, as well as those taking degrees at our universities.

“Along with the increase in support for young students this is great news for students in Scotland’s colleges and universities who are working hard to gain the education and skills that will help them see out this recession and build jobs for the future.

“Today’s announcement is a real step forward, ensuring independent students have the funding to access education and putting the role of our colleges and universities at the heart of economic recovery.”