Rise in cost of financial assistance to students in Scotland

A record number of students are receiving financial assistance from the Scottish Government, according to a report.

A total of £882.7 million in support was paid out to 147,920 full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students in 2017-18.

It is a 4.5% increase on the £844.7 million spent in 2016-17, paid out by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).

The total payment includes any form of bursary, grant, fees or loan support given to students over the academic year.

The figures mean the average support provided per student rose from £5,890 in 2016-17 to £5,970 in 2017-18 – up by 1.4%.

The analysis indicates 53,620 students received a grant or bursary, while the total amount authorised in loans was £528.4 million.

A further 19,470 students were provided fee support whilst studying on a part-time basis, with the total amount at £15.7 million – an average of £810 per student.

There were 15,240 students from the European Union also supported, accounting for 10.3% of students during the period, who received £32 million of support – 3.6% of the total amount of support given to all students.

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.”