From education to employment

Scotland’s Colleges premieres film to highlight student debt worries

Scotland’s Colleges premiered its short film, Skills Without Debt, last week to raise awareness of student debt in the country.

The film offers first-hand accounts from students suffering from debt and hardship, and a discussion was held following the premier in Edinburgh, with a panel of speakers comprising of Chris Travis, chief executive of Scotland’s Colleges, Sue Pinder, principal of James Watt College, and Paul Little, principal of Central College Glasgow.

Mr Travis said: "The film puts across a powerful message about the impact that debt has on the students in Scottish colleges.

"The complexity of student support and the burden of debt act as significant barriers to students from the most deprived backgrounds, who are often mature students and lone parents, and who make up a significant proportion of students in Scotland’s colleges.

"Moving from loans to bursaries will open up higher education opportunities to more people, and in these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever to ensure we maximise Scotland’s skills base to build the foundations of Scotland’s economic recovery."

Skills Without Debt was produced in response to the Government’s consultation on student support: Supporting a Smarter Scotland. The film concludes that the Government should move from loans to offering bursaries instead. It is supported by research carried out earlier this year by Scotland’s Colleges, which found that 75 per cent of students currently receiving student loans would prefer to avoid this debt, even if this meant having less income to live on.

The survey of over 1,000 FE and higher education students in 17 colleges also found that money is by far their biggest concern, and than half of all students do not understand how decisions were made to calculate their student funding and support.

Convenor of Scotland’s Colleges Principals’ Convention, Linda McTavish, said: "This film drives home the message that Scotland’s college students are being held back from continuing their studies by the burden of debt.

"Introducing full bursary support will increase opportunities for those who have previously been faced with financial barriers to continuing their education, and the sooner this happens, the sooner Scotland can increase its skilled workforce to see us through the current recession."

The film is available to view at

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