Scottish ministers urged to reverse student grant cuts as debts soar

The Guardian is reporting that Scottish ministers are being urged to reverse cuts in student grants after the debts taken out by Scottish students to meet their living costs soared by £160m last year…

New analysis of the latest figures from the Student Loan Company shows that overall student debt rose far more sharply in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK in 2013-14. It jumped by a record 58% to £436m for the year.

Lucy Hunter Blackburn, a former Scottish government civil servant who helped devise the graduate endowment levy on post-university earnings that was scrapped by Alex Salmond in 2007, said her analysis showed this was the highest annual rise in total student debt in any part of the UK since the mid-1990s.

Loans taken out to cover daily living costs, the category over which Scottish ministers have direct control, jumped by 64% to £409m after the government in Edinburgh slashed maintenance grants to fund other policies in 2012.

Hunter Blackburn said her analysis showed that while Scottish students had the lowest average debt in the UK, at £5,344 per head against £8,924 in England, £6,191 in Wales and £6,214 in Northern Ireland, most did four year degrees. That implied their total debts at graduation would be more than £20,000.

Announcing the new funding scheme in 2012, Mike Russell, Scotland’s education secretary, played down the greater use of loans by arguing the new package would give Scottish students the most generous deal in the UK, entitling them to a minimum of £7,250 overall.

The National Union of Students said it wanted ministers to increase student grant funding significantly in next year’s budget, without reducing the loans available to those who needed them and without changing the free tuition fees policy, which it heartily supports…

The Scottish government did not dispute Hunter Blackburn’s analysis, but said it was clear that Scottish students still had lower debts on average than others in the UK. A spokesman said the loans offered students more flexibility in how they supported themselves. In addition, 12,175 college students received educational maintenance allowances worth £8.3m in 2011-12…

More at: Scottish ministers urged to reverse student grant cuts as debts soar

 

Are these rises in loans in Scotland the result of the implications of the free tuition fees policy, with cuts effectively having to be made elsewhere? And with overall loans still the lowest in the UK, is there too much for Scottish students to complain about or will these changes going to cause real problems? Please give us your insights in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Categories: Higher Education and Scotland.

Comments

  1. garrodt

    SchoolsImprove The Tory’s hoping Unis stupid enough to accept all debt.The debt + interest raises,2 many unpayable.Look at the US debt mess

  2. EddieTriggs

    SchoolsImprove “Scottish students still had lower debts on average than others in the UK” errr £27,000 by my reckoning, no damn fees!!

  3. ADevaney1

    EddieTriggs Scottish debt levels are worrying and unfortunately really puts English student debts in perspective.

  4. ADevaney1

    EddieTriggs in NI choices can be hugely influenced by finance. SO much cheaper to stay here rather than experience another part of UK.

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