Back to news

Protection of college bursary budget a victory for students

Wednesday 8 February 2012NUS News

The Scottish Government has confirmed it will reverse the proposed cut of £11.4m for college bursaries as the Budget is voted on today, protecting college bursary funding.

The draft Budget, published in November, included a proposed £11.4m cut to financial help for the poorest college students.

However, in opening the Budget debate today, John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, confirmed that this cut would now be reinstated and the budget would be protected at its current £95.6m level.

Following the publication of the draft Budget, NUS Scotland launched the Our Future, Our Fight campaign, calling on MSPs to protect college student support, places, local access and quality in Scotland's colleges.

In the three months of the campaign over 80,000 emails had been sent to MSPs from students, staff and the wider community, one of the largest campaigns NUS Scotland has ever seen.

NUS Scotland is welcoming the Scottish Government's decision as a victory for students across Scotland who worked so hard to generate the huge support for the campaign.

Robin Parker, NUS Scotland president, said: "The decision to reverse this cut to the poorest college students is a victory for thousands of students across Scotland, and a victory for the Our Future, Our Fight campaign.

"The campaign generated over 80,000 emails to MSPs which shows the huge strength of feeling Scotland has for its colleges. The Scottish Government has listened to MSPs across the parliament, and people across the country, and has acted to protect some of the poorest students in the poorest communities. We're delighted and fully welcome that.

"The asks of the campaign were to protect student support, places, local access to colleges and quality. I'm delighted to say that the Scottish Government has delivered to protect opportunities at this difficult time.

"We fully welcome their decision to reinstate the £11.4m into college bursaries, their commitment to protect places and local access, and we'll work closely with colleges and government to closely monitor the quality colleges are able to offer over the coming year.

"It's fantastic that the money is now in place to provide financial help to the poorest students and we'll now move on to work with government and the colleges to seek reform of the college student support system.

"By moving away from the current first-come first-served system towards an entitlement-based system, we can use this funding most effectively, offering the best possible support to the poorest college students."

On the rest of the Budget, Robin Parker said: "This Budget provides additional funding to universities, it keeps Scotland free of tuition fees, it protects the EMA, it begins to provide the money needed for a £7000 minimum income for the poorest higher education students and, following today's debate, it now also provides the money we need for the poorest college students. This is all great news.

"However, colleges are facing large cuts on top of even bigger cuts last year. There may well be savings generated through restructuring the college sector but it remains to be seen whether these savings are large enough to protect students, and the front line, from damage.

"We'll be keeping an incredibly close eye on how colleges fare over this year to ensure that where cuts are made they're made in a way that doesn't affect college students at the local level."