First minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged that no Scottish college student will lose out on crucial bursary funding as a consequence of joining the global climate strikes over the coming days.
Earlier this week, Tes reported that NUS Scotland had written to FE, HE and science minister Richard Lochhead, urging him to ensure students would not be penalised if they took strike action.
However, Green Party MSP Ross Greer told the Scottish Parliament today that the students' union had “not been able to get a straight answer” from the government or umbrella body Colleges Scotland.
Many college students were concerned they could lose “lifeline” bursary funding if they took part, due to the stringent attendance policies associated with the funds, he added.
In response, Ms Sturgeon said: “My view is very clear: students engaging in legitimate, peaceful protest should not lose their bursary for doing that. I am more than happy for the further education minister to correspond with the member about the detail of those assurances, so students know they can take part in these protests without these concerns.”
NUS Scotland president Liam McCabe said: “We are delighted to have secured this commitment from the first minister that no student in Scotland will lose bursary or student support as a result of participating in the climate action strikes.
"The challenges we face in this era of climate catastrophe require the full involvement of our student movement. We appreciate that this has been recognised by the Scottish government and that students can take part in protests without fear of financial penalties.”
Mr Greer said: “This climate strike will be a historic moment in our struggle against this unfolding crisis. Thousands of students in Scotland are preparing to take part and it would be entirely wrong to punish those on the lowest incomes for doing so, by taking away the bursaries they are entitled to.
"I’m glad that the first minister has finally confirmed her position that no bursaries should be withdrawn. Colleges across the country should take this on board and support rather than punish students taking part in this important moment of protest.”