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McArthur hits out at SNP cuts to student bursary support

October 29, 2013 1:28 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Liam McArthur hasLiam McArthurLiam McArthururged Education Secretary Mike Russell to be crystal clear over student support in Scotland. Figures published today on higher education student support in Scotland show that bursary support has reduced by 2.8% over the past year in contrast to students taking on 4% more student loan debt.

The figures show that the funding for the two bursary awards designed to support students with a low household income has either stagnated or dropped. The number of students receiving the Independent Students Bursary has decreased by 6.6%.

Commenting on the figures Mr McArthur said:

"The SNP once famously promised to 'dump student debt'. Yet these figures show that they are actually putting up student debt, while at the same time cutting bursary support. Mike Russell needs to be crystal clear over whether he really believes this indicates an increase in support for Scotland's students.

"Funding for the two bursary awards designed to support students from the poorest backgrounds has either stagnated or dropped. The number of students receiving the Independent Students Bursary, for example, has decreased by 6.6%.

"Mr Russell's pledge to raise bursary support with inflation is meaningless if the damage has already been done. With no indication of additional funding being made for bursaries to students from the poorest backgrounds, questions remain over how effective the Scottish Government's efforts can be in seeking to widen access to universities.

"Whatever the spin from the Education Secretary, students across Scotland won't be fooled. Their own bank balances will show, in black and in many cases red, that student debt is rising and grant support is decreasing."