Refugee reclassification to enable access to support.
Amendments to existing legislation will ensure that Syrian refugees are able to benefit from student support in Scotland.
The changes will remove any ambiguity to ensure that Syrian refugees are eligible for the relevant loans, allowances, fee support and living cost support from the date they enter the UK, without having to meet the normal three year residency requirements.
Regulations have also been changed to enable Syrian refugees to take up an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), in line with other student support regulations.
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance said:
"We can be immensely proud of Scotland's response to the ongoing crisis in Syria, including giving the recent month's new arrivals the very best of welcomes.
"These people have fled terror and tyranny and are some of the most vulnerable among those affected by the conflict. As they start their new lives here, we want them to be safe but also give them every opportunity to thrive in a new environment.
"The legal changes I am announcing today ends any ambiguity around their status when it comes to applying for student support. Syrian refugees deserve all the help we can give them and removing potential barriers to study is very much in line with our commitment to widen access, helping a vulnerable group make the most of their time in this country."
Vonnie Sandlan, president of NUS Scotland, added:
"This is a hugely positive move in Scotland's response to the ongoing refugee crisis we're seeing across the world. We know that education can have a hugely transformative effect on people's lives and opportunities, and by extending student support to Syrian refugees we're ensuring an invaluable place in education for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
"Scotland has played a leading and vocal role in ensuring the UK does more to step up and lead on supporting those fleeing persecution. This is a very welcome example of that in practice, ensuring Scotland does what we can. It means that not only are we opening our borders, but our institutions and communities, and providing more than refuge, but a place to learn and call home."
The regulations previously stated that eligible students who apply for asylum and are granted leave to remain are eligible for funding support. However, Syrian refugees have been granted Humanitarian Protection without having to apply for it so technically couldn't be supported.
The Education (Student Support) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2016 with regulations 5-10 making amendment to student support, coming into force on August 1, 2016. Regulations 1 and 11-13 amend eligibility for EMAs and will come into force on 31 March 2016.