Scottish and Welsh governments aim to make university more affordable

Photo credit: Amy via Flickr

By Emma Videan

A new report, commissioned by the Scottish government recommended that Scottish students should have an income of £8,100 per year. This would be made up of a mix of loans and bursaries, calculated using the personal circumstances of each student. Scottish students receive free tuition, however arrangements for loans to contribute to living costs are more complicated than they are in England and Wales.

The chief executive officer of Virgin Money, Jayne-Anne Gadhia noted that every £1 of public investment towards higher education led to nearly £6 of economic impact for Scotland. The report encourages the Scottish government to invest in a living wage for students, in order to increase the diversity of students pursuing further education and to boost the economy.

On the other hand, Welsh students starting their studies in September 2018 will receive support for living costs equivalent to the National Living Wage in the form of grants and loans. The amount of money that can be received by a student is still dependent on their household income, but the upper threshold for those eligible for support has risen to £59,200 following a report by Professor Ian Diamond.

The minimum grant that will be received is £1,000 but for students living away from home, who have a low household income, the maximum that they could receive is £9,000 per year outside of London. Not only this, but students are still able to apply for a maintenance loan to top up their income.

In Wales, it was reported that the average estimated income was just over £16,300 for full-time students, an increase of 43% compared to 2011/2012. This income might be from work, family, friends, savings and borrowing. This release from the Welsh Government was announced in June 2017 and covered the period of 2014/2015.

It was found that over half were receiving Welsh Government Learning Grant (WGLG) or Special Support Grant (SSG) and that there has been in an increase in students doing paid work while in full-time education in order to cover living costs. After the first year of studying at university, borrowing averaged at just under £7,300 but by the end of the third year, this increased to over £19,000.

The cause of changes in Wales are because of similar reasons of that in Scotland, as governments have found through research that money can be a huge barrier for people when considering higher education. For example, the Student Money Survey 2017 that found 84% of students worry about having enough money. Changes to loans and grants aim to encourage students from diverse backgrounds going to university.

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Photo credit: Emma Videan