Recommendation 1: We recommend that a revised means test arrangement, applicable in both further and higher education, be put in place whereby the parental or spousal contribution reflects the financial pressures on those on low to middle incomes, while deriving a greater contribution from higher income groups.
Recommendation 2: We recommend that full-time students who are genuinely unable to find work during the summer vacation should have access to benefits. The Department of Social Security should introduce procedures to this effect.
Recommendation 3: We recommend that the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Department further promotes, through partnership with Scotland's employer organisations, major employers, enterprise bodies, further and higher education funding councils and trades unions, best practice in the support of further and higher education for employees.
Recommendation 4: We recommend that an Income and Expenditure Profile of Scotland's students should be commissioned to build on existing information. This should incorporate research that examines the relationship between income and expenditure in addition to reporting on the income strategies and expenditure patterns themselves.
Recommendation 5: We recommend that the level of support for full-time students in higher education should be subject to review in the light of the Income and Expenditure Profile. We also recommend that the present level of support for students living away from home should be increased to Pounds 4,100, for students living at home to Pounds 3,240 and for students studying in London to Pounds 5,050.
Recommendation 6: We recommend that the level of support for full-time students in further education should be subject to review in the light of the Income and Expenditure Profile referred to in Recommendation 4. We also recommend that, subject to the course provision being available, the level of bursary support for over 18-year-olds in further education should be increased over time to match that available in higher education. A further review of bursary provision for 16 to 18-year-olds in both schools and further education should be undertaken.
Recommendation 7: We commend a term-time maximum of about ten hours paid employment a week as a reasonable balance between the need or wish of students to supplement their basic income and the interests of their studies.
Recommendation 8: We recommend that universities and colleges should develop "part-time employment" strategies and provide advice to students in balancing their employment and studies. Codes of conduct should be established on the proper employment of students by employers, their representative organisations and trades unions in the sectors and areas where there are high levels of part-time student work.
Recommendation 9: We recommend that the Scottish Executive commissions a review of how to develop the relationship between the benefits system and support for part-time further and higher education students with a view to maximising opportunities for learners.
Recommendation 10: We recommend that the Scottish Executive commissions as a matter of urgency a feasibility study in regard to students on part-time, credit-bearing courses leading to further and higher education qualifications and their entitlement to means-tested support which we suggest should be determined by fixed qualifying rules.
Recommendation 11: We welcome the very recent increase in loan entitlement for part-time higher education students and we recommend that the Scottish Executive monitors the adequacy of this sum.
Recommendation 12: We recommend that the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities should undertake a review of the present regulations and bring forward recommendations to the Scottish Executive to resolve the anomalies as far as full-time students and liability for payment of council tax are concerned.
Recommendation 13: We recommend that there should be an entitlement for young people from low-income backgrounds of up to three years' bursary support. Where young people are under 18 they would be entitled to bursary support at the appropriate 16-18 level in further education or preferably the new rate of Education Maintenance Allowance (which applies equally to support students in schools and in further education). The level of student support should not act as a barrier or an incentive to enhance the attractiveness of study in one post-compulsory institution over another.
Recommendation 14: We recommend that the present system of allowances for students who are lone parents should be maintained and enhanced by the introduction of a Pounds 1,500 childcare allowance. This measure should be introduced in a way which does not result in an offset against benefits.
Recommendation 15: We recommend that mature students should be entitled to a comparable level of childcare support to that available to New Deal students.
Recommendation 16: We recommend that transitional benefit safeguards should be introduced into full-time study for mature students from low-income backgrounds.
Recommendation 17: We recommend that Disabled Students' Allowance should be made available to all higher education students regardless of course or level of study. Recommendation 18: We recommend that the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council should undertake further monitoring of the provision for students with disabilities in higher education.
Recommendation 19: We recommend that the Disability Living Allowance should not be an assessed component when making decisions about bursary funding levels, since it is not disposable income.
Recommendation 20: We recommend that the Scottish Further Education Funding Council should examine ways to provide direct funding towards learners with additional support needs, paying particular attention to the model of the Disabled Students' Allowance, and develop funding methods which target individual needs.
Recommendation 21: We recommend that the threshold for parental and spousal contributions should be amended so that no parent or spouse with earnings below Pounds 23,000 is expected to make a contribution. Recommendation 22: We recommend that the Scottish Executive undertakes a detailed review of the means test, and the apparent anomalies it contains, and introduces a new system which is less onerous on low to middle-income parents and more progressive towards better off parents.
Recommendation 23: We recommend that the Scottish Executive commissions a pilot study, run in conjunction with the financial sector, on a non-subsidised loans scheme, with income contingent repayment terms. This would be available to higher education students who are unable, for whatever reason, to access parental or spousal support.
Recommendation 24: We recommend that the definitions of parent and spouse used by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland should be brought into line with those used by the Department of Social Security.
Recommendation 25: We recommend that methods for assessing parental income in further education are aligned with those in higher education.
Recommendation 26: We recommend that young adults from low-income families taking higher education courses should be entitled to receive a bursary for half the value of the support available to them for the full period of their studies.
Recommendation : We recommend that a Wider Access Bursary scheme is developed to target non-repayable support to particularly disadvantaged students in higher education. This scheme should be administered by the universities and colleges and comprehensively evaluated.
Recommendation 28: We recommend that a Mature Students' Bursary scheme is developed to target non-repayable support to particularly disadvantaged mature students. Further analysis, possibly in the form of a basket of socio-economic indicators, will be required to provide an improved basis for targeting support to mature students. A bursary for half the value of the present level of support for the full period of their studies should be made available.
Recommendation 29: We recommend that the funds currently available for Access Funds should be re-directed to the Bursary schemes. A limited fund should remain to assist unpredictable hardship cases.
Recommendation 30: We recommend that there is no Scottish domiciled student contribution towards full-time tuition costs in higher education. Parents and spouses will continue to make a substantial contribution towards the living costs of students. They should not be required to pay tuition fees. Recommendation 31: We recommend that the shortfall in income to the higher education sector arising from the abolition of the Scottish domiciled student contribution to tuition costs should be met by the Scottish Executive. This will cost around Pounds 12 million per annum.
Recommendation 32: We recommend that legislation be introduced to the Scottish Parliament to set up the Scottish Graduate Endowment. In this way, additional private resources would be accessed from the main beneficiaries of higher education, namely graduates, once they are able to contribute.
Recommendation 33: We recommend that the Scottish Graduate Endowment should apply to all graduates who are domiciled in Scotland and who will commence full-time undergraduate courses in October 2001, irrespective of the course to be taken.
Recommendation 34: We commend to the Scottish Fee Waiver Review that ministers elsewhere in the UK should resolve the fourth year anomaly, by introducing a fee waiver scheme as a matter of urgency. The proposal here need not introduce any new anomalies for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Recommendation 35: We recommend that the contribution to the Scottish Graduate Endowment should be Pounds 3,075 and should be linked to the Retail Price Index. This would be payable after graduation, once the graduate's salary is at least Pounds 25,000.
Recommendation 36: We recommend that the resource accounting benefit of the Scottish Graduate Endowment is taken into account to ensure that the income from tuition fees to the sector is maintained.
Recommendation 37: We recommend that payments into the endowment should be collected by the same organisation that is tasked to distribute student support, namely the successor organisation to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland.
Recommendation 38: We recommend that the Scottish Executive considers further existing international experience on whether early fulfilment of a student's responsibilities to the endowment would benefit students overall. If so, we would recommend a facility for early payment be incorporated in the scheme.
Recommendation 39: We recommend that consideration be given to the establishment of a charitable trust to be known as the Scottish Graduate Endowment Foundation to provide additional financial support to further and higher education students in Scotland. The new system should be in place by October 2001, with transitional arrangements.
Recommendation 40: We recommend that a transfer scheme should be devised. This would allow students already in the system to choose whether to complete their studies on the basis of the present system of up-front contributions or to transfer to new arrangements.
Recommendation 41: We recommend that the present guidelines should be expanded to provide a comprehensive statement of the circumstances in which support will be provided in further education and that these new guidelines are applied by all colleges in Scotland. We recommend that revised guidelines should be drawn up as a matter of urgency by the Scottish Further Education Funding Council and that they should retain the responsibility until such time as the new body (Recommendation 45) is in place.
Recommendation 42: We recommend that further development of the electronic exchange of information should be explored and introduced. General information should be made available to the public on the internet and in public libraries so that prospective students of all ages can readily obtain the information they need to plan their next period of study in tertiary education.
Recommendation 43: We recommend that links between institutions and Student Finance Scotland should be established by means of a network of liaison officers, one in each university, together with a central contact, to exchange information. This group should meet twice a year and review the effectiveness of the process and the service provided to students. Further education already has this type of network, as the bursary allocation system serves the same purpose.
Recommendation 44: We recommend that an assessment should be made across all the elements of the student finance system by a single body to determine whether the system is functioning effectively. This task should include the responsibility to provide advice to the First Minister where changes seem desirable.
Recommendation 45: We recommend that a new body, which subsumes the Student Awards Agency for Scotland, to be called Student Finance Scotland, should be provided for in statute, be accountable and should have the following responsibilities to:
* Compile and disseminate advice and information about the costs of study and the support available for tertiary education
* Act as a link for information about courses, directing enquirers to the appropriate institutions for further details
* Administer the support arrangements for all higher education students
* Obtain Scottish Graduate Endowment declarations
* Track progress of, and advise on, applications for support in conjunction with the Student Loans Company
* Issue, maintain and amend the rules for the allocation of bursaries in further education
* Collect payment of the Scottish Graduate Endowment
* Monitor the student finance system and coordinate the publication of related statistics
* Provide statutory advice to the First Minister on student funding aspects of lifelong learning through the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Department.
Recommendation 46: We recommend that a review of the functions of existing bodies in this sector, the enterprise bodies and the further and higher education funding councils, should be undertaken prior to the setting up of Student Finance Scotland to eliminate any overlaps and to ensure that Student Finance Scotland will have a clear and purposeful role. This review should also provide for liaison with the Department of Social Security to ensure that on a continuing basis the student support arrangements and the benefit system dovetail.
Recommendation 47: We recommend that the Scottish Executive commissions a further analysis of the use of Individual Learning Accounts in supporting students in further and higher education.
Recommendation 48: We recommend that consideration is given to providing incentive to contribution through tax breaks. Contributions would be relieved, in whole or in part, at the time they were made and savings would accumulate in the Individual Learning Account free of tax.
Recommendation 49: We recommend that in view of the importance of the Scottish Studentships Scheme to supporting research endeavour and scholarship in the arts and humanities in Scotland, the support arrangements enshrined in the scheme should remain unchanged at present but should be subject to periodic review, particularly in relation to cognate arrangements for awards made by the Arts and Humanities Research Board.
Recommendation 50: We recommend that the Scottish Executive should examine in more depth the support arrangements in the Postgraduate Students' Allowances scheme in relation to both full and part-time postgraduate students usually resident in Scotland.
Recommendation 51: We recommend that the Scottish Executive should conduct its review on the basis of the Committee's Guiding Principles.
Recommendation 52: We recommend the following issues in particular should be considered in the course of the Scottish Executive's review:
* Whether means-tested, income-contingent loans should be introduced for all postgraduate students taking courses assessed by the Higher Education Quality Assurance Agency as being vocational conversion rather than postgraduate level
* Whether to further the cause of equality of opportunity, the Disabled Students' Allowance should be extended to all those students with disabilities who take up a postgraduate course
* The need for, and the nature of, incentives to encourage an adequate number of Scottish domiciled students to take up places on postgraduate courses identified by the government as "priority" under the Miller report proposals
* Whether, against a background of accumulated debt during undergraduate study and the need to encourage a sufficient supply of graduates to continue their studies, postgraduate students supported by the Postgraduate Students' Allowances scheme should be exempt from any additional contribution to the Scottish Graduate Endowment Foundation
* The need for a restructuring of the present fee structure in the event that the Quality Assurance Agency were to find that many of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council-funded postgraduate courses are assessed as not being at postgraduate level in terms of the emerging qualifications framework.
Note: Recommendations 2, 16 and 48 relate to reserved powers.