@NUSScotland has welcomed the Scottish Government's response to concerns raised by student representatives, with the announcement of a package of support available to students facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Support announced by the Scottish Government includes:
- £5 million across further and higher education to support students facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak
- a commitment to pay bursaries, loans, and grants as planned, with ongoing and advice to college and university students on financial support issues
- an extension of the Care-Experienced Accommodation Grant
Commenting, NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe said:
“Students are facing untold disruption to their studies, work and lives, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with significant implications for their financial security.
"Given the financial pressure students are under, we welcome today’s announcement, which we hope will relieve some of the hardship faced by Scotland’s most vulnerable students. It’s crucial that institutions make these funds easy to access, and ensure that they are open to all students who need them.
“We must keep track of student demand for hardship funding during this pandemic to ensure that no student in need of support ever goes without.”
Extra hardship payments for students - Emergency funds offered during coronavirus outbreak.
A £5 million package of emergency financial support is being put in place to help students facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Extra cash will be available to any university and college students now struggling as a result of COVID-19, including those attending private institutions.
The £5 million includes an additional £2.2 million for Scotland’s Higher Education (HE) Discretionary Fund specifically to address COVID-19-related hardships, which will be available to colleges and universities immediately.
University and college students will be able to apply for any emergency discretionary payments directly to their own institutions.
Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said:
“We are ensuring students studying in Scotland should have access to emergency support should they be facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 or the social distancing and isolation measures that have been introduced.
“All bursaries, grants and loans are continuing to be paid as planned but the current unprecedented situation has resulted in increased hardship. That is why we are making extra funding immediately available for students most in need, to help alleviate concerns around accommodation costs, mental health issues, general living costs and wellbeing.
“Institutions will be provided with specific guidance on the discretionary funding related to COVID-19, to explain all relevant details while students can access the latest information on COVID-19 on the Student Information Scotland (SIS) website."
An additional £2.2 million will be available immediately through the Higher Education Discretionary Fund, and will supplement £569,000 already issued. The remaining £2 million emergency student funding has been forward by the Scottish Funding Council from Further Education student support budgets for immediate use.
Other details of the emergency package include:
- £100,000 available to support around 1,000 students studying with private providers, administered by Student Awards Agency Scotland and paid directly to affected students.
- a three-month suspension by SAAS of all new debt recovery actions in respect to grants and bursaries, for students whose circumstances have changed and therefore may have to return overpayments – expected to benefit around 600 individuals. Where a student is experiencing difficulties SAAS will work with them to agree the best options, with suspension potentially one of the solutions. Some individuals may still wish to continue recovery with a reduced payment plan.
- an extension of the Care-Experienced Accommodation Grant from early April allowing eligible students to access support of a non-repayable grant of up to £105 per week - this is eight weeks earlier than usual benefiting around 200 students worth an estimated £200,000.