Question reference: S6W-17980
- Asked by: Fulton MacGregor, MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, Scottish National Party
- Date lodged: 15 May 2023
Current status: Answered by Graeme Dey on 25 May 2023
To ask the Scottish Government what its assessment is of the impact that higher and further education has on reducing poverty and inequality in communities, and what further action it is taking to support the sector through the cost of living crisis.
Fundamentally, access to education is an issue of fairness. Scotland has a truly world-class higher education system, perhaps the most powerful weapon there is to combat socioeconomic inequality. It is our firm belief that Scotland has a moral, social and economic duty to tackle this inequality. We remain committed to the principle that access to education should be based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay.
With regards to the cost of living crisis, we are committed to providing a student support system that is agile and supportive and prioritises support for those who need it most. We have taken positive steps to reform the student support landscape and made significant progress to deliver a student support package equivalent to the living wage. The most vulnerable students, including estranged and care experienced students, can now access up to £9,000 per year through bursaries and loans. Scottish Government have also reaffirmed their position that, unlike elsewhere in the UK, tuition fees for Scottish students studying in Scotland are free.
We understand that this is a challenging time for many students. We have provided £16.8m in hardship funding to higher education students studying in colleges and universities for the current academic year to support students experiencing financial hardship. We have also provided £135m in student support for FE students attending college in the current academic year. Colleges can use these funds flexibly to meet demand across FE student bursaries, childcare and hardship funding.