Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP today said thousands of students are struggling to keep their heads above water after the party revealed the number of applications for financial assistance to Scottish Universities, pinning the blame on SNP Government cuts to bursaries and grants.
Freedom of information requests from the party to Scottish universities reveal that since 2012/13, 53,326 applications for financial assistance have been received by university authorities.
Official Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) figures show that since the SNP entered government, on a commitment to "dump the debt", the value of student loans issued annually has increased 175% while the sum of bursaries and grants has fallen by a third.
Mr Scott commented:
“These figures show that in the last five years, tens of thousands of students at Scottish universities have had to reach out to university authorities to say that they are struggling to keep their heads above water.
“The SNP were elected on a clear commitment to replace loans with grants and to "dump the debt". On the SNP’s watch’s student debt has instead soared and bursaries and grants have been reduced. Fewer students from poorer backgrounds are getting help and those that do are receiving much less, despite inflation and accommodation costs rising. This is a desperate record.
"This new information shows the problems that these cut backs have caused and repairing them should be a priority for the SNP Government."