LABOUR has claimed that the grant awarded to the poorest students has been cut by more than £1,000 in real terms under the SNP Government.
The party has warned those worse-off have been “short-changed” – pointing to a fall in the maximum amount that the poorest students in higher education can receive from the Scottish Government’s young students’ bursary.
Students from households with low incomes were able to receive up to £2,640 through the grant in 2012-13, but was cut by ministers in 2013.
Labour has claimed that if the SNP had not cut the young students’ bursary, it would be worth a maximum of £3,157 per person in this financial year if it had kept pace with inflation.
The party has suggested that the SNP’s cuts to the bursary mean that the maximum funds available to the poorest students today is just £2,000 – a cut of £1,157 in real terms.
Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Michael Marra, said: “There can be no doubt that these deep cuts have left Scotland’s poorest students let down and short-changed.
“These cuts will have had a direct impact on the ability of students from the poorest backgrounds to commence or complete their studies.
“Time and time again, the SNP has failed to tackle the deep-seated inequality in our education system.”
He added: “Scottish Labour is committed to ending inequality in our higher education system through a minimum student income and action to put rent controls on student accommodation.
“We can’t have our poorest students short-changed and let down – the time for action has come.”
A spokesperson from the Scottish Government, said: “Higher Education students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds can access a minimum income guarantee of £7,750 per year.
“Our policy on free tuition ensures that, unlike elsewhere in the UK, Scottish students studying in Scotland do not incur additional debt of up to £27,000.
“We know that many students have faced additional financial pressure over the pandemic and have provided substantial support of over £96 million in hardship funding, digital access, mental health support and for student associations.
“We will also expand our total student support package to reach the equivalent of the living wage over the next three years.”