Figures published by the Students Awards Agency for Scotland today show that since the SNP’s 2012 “reforms” to student support, the total amount of support provided in bursaries and grants reduced by a third, while authorisations for student loans has increased by 61.4 per cent
Since 2008, the average bursary payment has reduced by 22 per cent, while the average loan authorisation has increased by a massive 118.6 per cent.
This is all despite an SNP pledge back in 2007 to "dump" student debt in their manifesto.
The figures also show that students from the poorest backgrounds are more likely to take out higher loans.
Scottish Labour's education spokesperson, Iain Gray critisised the figures, and warned that the Government’s new proposals for reforming student support will do little to change the situation.
“Too much of the student support package is weighted towards loans rather than grants and bursaries. The SNP once promised to end student debt, but for years now they have saddled the poorest students with the biggest debts. "
“This SNP government has slashed grants and bursaries which forces students to turn to higher loans."
“Today in Scotland those who start with the least end up owing the most. That stops too many young people gaining a degree. Labour supports free tuition but it has to be backed up by proper cost of living student support."
"Instead, the SNP watered down the recommendations of their own independent review of student support. That simply is not good enough."
In response o the statistics,Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “Higher Education in Scotland is based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay."
“The Scottish Government is investing a record amount in student support. As a result, more students, including those from the most deprived backgrounds, are benefiting from free tuition and the maximum level of grant or bursary."
“We are continuing to drive forward the recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access so that every child, no matter their background or circumstances, has an equal chance of going to university by 2030.”
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