Scots loans found to have sting in the tail

September 7, 2001

Scotland's post-Cubie student support system is not as rosy as generally believed, with both poorer and better-off students facing financial hardship this year.

The warning came from John Martin, director of student affairs at Strathclyde University, at the annual student wellbeing conference run by Strathclyde and Glasgow universities.

Mr Martin said Scots were having to negotiate an even more complex system than the rest of the United Kingdom. Administrators identified at least ten different types of full-time undergraduate in terms of student finance.

Despite the advent of bursaries, Mr Martin said many students from disadvantaged backgrounds would still struggle, especially if they could not rely on subsidies from families or part-time work.

Bursaries were not added to the maximum student loan, but were a means of reducing debt incurred by poorer students. Students whose annual parental income was £10,000 or less would be entitled to a loan/bursary package of £4,315, only £500 more than the maximum loan.

Mr Martin speculated that Scotland's more stringent approach to loan entitlement could mean more "well-off" students facing difficulties. Students whose gross parental income is just over £45,000 can borrow only £500 if they stay at home and £750 if they leave home.

He said student finance advisers were fielding calls from worried parents, since the annual cost of sending a child away from home is some £5,000.

It might make more financial sense for better-off Scots to go to an English university, he said. While they would have to pay the £1,075 tuition fee, they would still be entitled to 75 per cent of a £3,815 loan.

Mature students' bursaries were discretionary, despite institutions' pleas that they should be an entitlement. Mr Martin warned that the sums available to institutions would make it difficult for them to award the £2,000 maximum.

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