Scots demand grants pledge

December 26, 1997

SCOTTISH universities and colleges are demanding government assurances that the Students Awards Agency for Scotland will be able to cope with the new student support regime in the wake of this year's student grants fiasco.

The Scottish Office has had to make advance payments of millions of pounds to higher and further education institutions to compensate for the late arrival of tuition fees and allow them to help students waiting for maintenance grants. The delays have been blamed on the agency's new computer system.

The Association of Scottish Colleges said 20 per cent of students in some further education colleges had not yet had their grant applications processed. The ASC has written to Scottish education minister Brian Wilson highlighting its concern about the agency's performance, difficulties in communication between the SAAS and colleges, and the way in which applications had been prioritised.

Ronald Crawford, secretary of the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals, said: "COSHEP is extremely concerned about the ability of the SAAS to cope with the new situation given this poor performance " A Scottish Office spokesman said: "We acknowledge that the SAAS has faced difficulties over the past year and we are reviewing its operations to ensure that its levels of service are improved upon."

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