By Jamie Patterson
Many local students face dropping out of higher education as their bursary money dries up.
As a result of the recession and a corresponding loss in jobs and rise in number of people wanting to enter higher education, bursary pots are facing tough pressure.
The Scottish Funding Council (SFC), which is responsible for allocating the nation’s burasaries, is asking colleges to provide figures outlining the ir costs in order to re-allocate funding.
Colleges are drawing up waiting lists for the students who have missed out on bursary funding, while struggling students try to a way round the problem, with others having no option but to dro out.
Jewel and Esk College‘s annual bursary pot this year conisted of £1.4 million, but has issued £2m worth in hoping it can retrieve the deficit from the SFC.
The college has seen an increase of 450 students this year – 10 per cent up on last year – and currently has 30 students on the bursary waiting list.
Stevenson College, meanwhile, has seen a bursary waiting list of 300 students, with demands ranging from £450 to £4,150.
Liam Burns, President of NUS Scotland said:
“The £30 million made available by the Government was never going to be enough to address the issues facing hard-up students in Scotland. Some hard decisions have had to be made about the best use of these funds. We have proved that hardship and commercial debt are the most pressing concerns for students, and the Government have both recognised and responded to this with today’s options.
“We are extremely pleased with the move to support student parents, particularly in light of the problems with childcare funding experienced last year. We look forward to working with the Government over the next year to ensure this becomes an entitlement, and not the lottery students with children currently face.
“The new bursary for independent students is also a welcome move. Our research has shown that mature students are more likely to be debt averse than their younger counterparts, and this helps to encourage non-traditional students into higher education. We do, however, remain concerned about using the available funds to benefit those students who need it most, and will continue to work with the Government on the specifics of the support they are offering.”