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Support for students

Published: 14 Feb 2016 00:01
Part of:

Bursary bonus paid this week and raised loan repayment threshold.

-- Not for broadcast or publication before 00:01 hours on Sunday, February 14, 2016 --

More than 35,000 students from lower income backgrounds will receive an additional £125 bursary payment for 2015/16 from next week.

The move was confirmed by Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance for all eligible students receiving an Independent Students' or Young Students' Bursary who have been confirmed as attending university or college in this academic year.

Eighteen universities and colleges will also receive a share of around £1,173,000 discretionary funding to help students in need of extra help. This follows a reallocation exercise by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS), to ensure every penny available is spent in assisting the most vulnerable students.

The Scottish Government has also confirmed that the repayment threshold for student loans will continue to increase with inflation this year. Ms Constance said:

"Entry to Higher Education in Scotland is based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay and the Scottish Government is helping over 160,000 students studying in Scotland this year by not charging fees.

"Our average student debt levels remain the lowest in the UK. In contrast to the UK government, which is abolishing maintenance grants entirely for new students in England from 2016-17, this increase will put more money in the pockets of the hardest pressed students in Scotland. This is very much in line with the request of NUS Scotland, with next year's bursary including the increase.

"Action on discretionary funds is being enabled by awarding money to a number of universities and colleges who have made a case to help more of their students in need. This involves using unspent resource in other institutions and is an efficient use of available resources. Our ongoing support for the university sector includes an annual investment of around £1 billion.

"Further, we have again taken steps to ensure that the repayment threshold for students who apply through SAAS will continue to rise in line with inflation, a practice that the UK government has ended for students in England.

"Increased bursary support and a higher repayment threshold for loans are just part of the work being undertaken to reduce the barriers to entering Higher Education for students with lower incomes. This spring the Commission on Widening Access will publish its final report and I expect a number of recommendations aimed at helping students maximise their potential."

Notes to editors

The new Scottish student loan repayment threshold will be £17,495.

Any student who is currently receiving Independent Students' Bursary (ISB) with a household income below £17,000, or Young Students' Bursary (YSB) with a household income below £24,000 in the academic year 2015-2016 and who SAAS have received confirmed attendance for, is eligible for the bursary payment. Students will receive a one -off payment of £125 in session 2015-2016 – in future years this will be embedded in the total available bursary.

SAAS will make the one-off payment to students on 15 February 2016. Any eligible student who applies before SAAS closing date on 31 March 2016, will be considered for the one-off payment. SAAS will make arrangements to ensure that students who apply after the payment is made, will not lose out.

Discretionary funds for Higher Education Institutions will be distributed as follows:

Glasgow Caledonian University £170,000.00

Dundee University £30,000.00

Glasgow School of Art £35,500.00

University of St Andrews £50,000.00

Stirling University £73,706.00

University of the West of Scotland £70,000.00

Scotland's Rural College £47,974.25

Queen Margaret University £20,000.00

University of Abertay £40,000.00

University of Aberdeen £35,000.00

South Lanarkshire College £151,002.00

West Lothian College £46,543.00

Newbattle Abbey College £5,000.00

Dumfries and Galloway College £15,000.00

Edinburgh College £19,022.00

Fife College £35,000.00

City of Glasgow College £250,000.00

New College Lanarkshire £80,000.00

Total £1,173,747.25