Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Grants rise for 75,000 students

Generic students on graduation day
The NUS Scotland president described the move as "great news for students"

A students' union has welcomed an increase in grants announced by the Scottish Education Secretary.

Fiona Hyslop said as a result of discussions with the NUS there would be a rise for the poorest students of up to £1,227.

There will also be a grant for mature students of up to £1,000 and £2m will be given to students for childcare.

Ms Hyslop said the move, which has won cross-party support, would boost the income of more than 75,000 students.

The education secretary unveiled the details of how the extra £30m would be allocated in the next academic year in the Scottish Parliament.

She said: "Following detailed discussions with NUS Scotland, I can announce that student incomes will rise by up to £1,227 for independent students and up to £622 for dependent students.

£30m was never going to be enough to entirely address student hardship
Murdo Fraser
Scottish Conservatives

"We will introduce a new grant for independent students - often mature students with their own families to support - to ensure they get the same help as other students.

"We also intend, as we said we would, to increase the funding available for students with childcare needs and to increase the income assessed student loan by up to £442 next year."

Liam Burns, NUS Scotland president, described the announcement as "great news for students".

"For years we've been calling for student hardship to be prioritised over graduate debt, getting money into students' pockets when they need it most, and today's announcement does this," he said.

"We have worked closely with both the government and the opposition parties, and I believe this is a clear example of what can be achieved when people put politics to one side to work together for the best possible outcome."

'Kicking and screaming'

Lib Dem education spokeswoman Margaret Smith said the move was a "welcome U-turn".

"It has taken hard work by the opposition parties and NUS Scotland to drag the SNP kicking and screaming into the best deal for Scotland's students," she said.

The Conservative education spokesman, Murdo Fraser, said: "These proposals will generally be welcomed by students, but £30m was never going to be enough to entirely address student hardship.

"Today Sir Andrew Cubie is backing calls first made by the Scottish Conservatives for an independent review of university funding and student support, so we can take the next step forward.

"Fiona Hyslop must join the growing consensus in support of these calls, and if not, she must explain why not."

Sir Andrew, who chaired a landmark inquiry into student finances, called for Scottish graduates to contribute towards the cost of their degrees.

Upfront tuition fees were abolished in Scotland in 2000 following recommendations from Sir Andrew.

Following Ms Hyslop's announcment, Claire Baker, Labour's education spokeswoman, also urged ministers to back Sir Andrew's call for a review.

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