Cheers as barriers go down

REACTION to the Executive's announcements was largely positive. The Association of Scottish Colleges said the package was a first step towards making sense of student support and additional help for part-time FE students was a recognition of "the most neglected group in the student support debate".

The Scottish Further Education Funding Council said the childcare cash for part-timers "will help dismantle a major barrier to participation in further education". The National Union of Students Scotland described it as "a huge step forward".

It also welcomed the announcement by Jack McConnell, the Finance Minister, that he would begin cnsultations on how student liability for council tax could be reduced.

But One Parent Families Scotland, representing 170,000 lone parents, called for childcare support to be available at the start of term not later when costs had already been incurred. Lone parents are also put off studying by delays and uncertainties in social security payments, especially housing benefit, when claiming as students, it said.

The Executive said an interdepartmental committee involving Whitehall ministries would examine the links between benefits and student support, since social security is outwith the remit of the Scottish Parliament.

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