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Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Greens Back Call For Better College Student Funding

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Isla O'Reilly and fellow Highland MSP candidate John Finnie outside Inverness College

Isla O’Reilly and fellow Highland MSP candidate John Finnie outside Inverness College

Scottish Greens today (8 April) backed calls from the National Union of Students for better financial support for college students.

Green MSPs will support a national entitlement to locally-delivered bursaries for all students in further education. This means that all students can access support and know how much they will receive before starting their course. This type of entitlement is already available for higher education students and provides much needed certainty.

The Scottish Greens, who are campaigning to elect MSPs from all 8 parliamentary regions and have enjoyed a membership surge to over 9,000, also believe student financial support should increase with inflation.

Isla O’Reilly, education spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP candidate for the Highlands and Islands, said:

“In recent years further education courses have been cut and opportunities for part-time study reduced. Scottish Greens want greater investment in further education to ensure wider access to education.

“University students have certainty about their burseries and we fail to see why the same shouldn’t be true for college students. Further education has been sidelined by the SNP. It is clear we need a bolder Holyrood with more Green voices to restore some balance.

“Further Education students need a stronger voice, and we want to see their associations and unions properly funded. We also want to see a national hardship fund to help prevent students dropping out of education between academic years.

“Scottish Greens’ student support proposals are designed to remove financial barriers to education and we agree with the Commission on Widening Access that inequality in higher education is unfair, damaging and unsustainable. We will use its findings and recommendations to ensure action on access to education is as bold as it can be.”

Vonnie Sandlan, President of NUS Scotland, said:

“It’s great to see the Scottish Green Party committing to fairer support, fully backing NUS Scotland’s ‘Shaping Scotland’s Future’ campaign. These policies would go a long way to ensuring students are properly supported to access education, stay there, and reach their full potential.

“One of the biggest injustices of the post-16 education system is the lack of guaranteed support in further education, and the Scottish Greens commitment to end that is really positive. We know that FE bursary budgets are overstretched and underfunded – a disaster for those students – and improved, guaranteed support is long overdue.”

“We’re delighted the Scottish Greens have shown a firm commitment to Scotland’s students, who overwhelmingly told us that the issue of fairer support needed to be at the heart of this election. Between now and polling day, we hope that all parties come out in support of that.”

Patrick Harvie, Co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, said:

“NUS Scotland and the Scottish Greens are in strong agreement that access to education should be a right, not a privilege. Students in Scotland know that we’ll never betray them on issues like tuition fees, but if we’re to break down the other barriers to learning we also need investment at every level. Scottish Green MSPs will commit to funding the services that support people to overcome barriers to learning and reach their potential. We look forward to working closely with NUS Scotland on these issues in the new Parliament.”