From education to employment

ASC calls for rethink on student finance in Scotland

The Association of Scotland’s Colleges (ASC) will today call for the Commission on Scottish Devolution to remove the financial barriers that prevent adults from entering education.

Giving evidence later today to the independent commission, the ASC will argue that a poorly co-ordinated student support system between Westminster and Holyrood, is the root cause to the problems. Under current arrangements since devolution, students receiving help are finding they are worse off financially, by returning to education.

Acting Chief Executive of the ASC, Howard McKenzie, explained: "Choosing to come to college is a brave move for many of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. For many, just being eligible for a student loan will actually have an adverse affect on the amount of welfare they receive, regardless of whether they choose to accept this debt. Many students also face difficult decisions when it comes to living arrangements with partners, as household income is taken into consideration in the calculation of benefits. A couple who choose to live together may find themselves considerably less well off."

The ASC will also put forward recommendations on a new bursary system to replace the current student loan.

Mr McKenzie continued: "At the moment, the average HNC or HND student in Scotland , who is 31 years old, is forced to juggle up to nine separate income streams and survive on a household income of less than £18,000. We are deeply concerned that this level of complexity, alongside the threat of actually being worse off, is a huge deterrent to study for society’s poorest people – in other words, those who need education the most. This absolutely has to change."

By Jason Seebaruth

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