Following the ministerial statement on widening access, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP has said it remains unclear what student support changes will come into force in time for the next academic year and whether these will repair years of cuts to bursaries and grants for students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.
Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) figures show that since the SNP entered government the value of student loans issued annually has increased 175% while the sum of bursaries and grants has fallen by a third.
Mr Scott drew attention to the importance of vocational routes into work and asked the Minister to clarify when the recommendations and outcomes of the recent review of student support would be realised.
Speaking after questioning the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Mr Scott said:
“The SNP were elected on a commitment to replace loans with grants but a decade on fewer students are getting them and they are receiving much less.
“It’s not encouraging that even now the Minister isn’t able to confirm which of the review’s recommendations will be in place by the start of the next academic year.
"Students and parents will already be planning their finances for September onwards. Others may still be wondering whether they can afford to pursue further and higher education at all. They need clarity on what the situation will be."