Tertiary - Students' union fights cuts with Budget for Bursaries campaign
Students have called on the Scottish Government to reverse the pound;1.7 million real terms cut to college bursaries proposed in the draft Scottish Budget.
NUS Scotland launched its Budget for Bursaries campaign last week, after research showed that almost two-thirds of colleges in Scotland had to dip into their reserves or make cuts to their bursary provision last year.
This year, despite a pound;3.5m cash injection last month, colleges are almost pound;9m short of demand for bursaries, according to NUS Scotland.
The proposed cut would, assuming demand remains the same, lead to a pound;14m shortfall in 201112. That could result in up to 40,000 college students seeing their income cut, claims the student body.
Bursaries are the only financial support available to adult college students and only the poorest qualify for the funding.
Liam Burns, president of NUS Scotland, said: "Taking over pound;1.7m directly out of the pockets of up to 40,000 of the poorest students in Scotland is the last thing we should do. We know cuts have to be made but we can't allow the worst-off in society to take the heaviest hit.
"College bursaries are all that many of the poorest students have to live off while they study. They are the difference between some students paying rent and eating, or getting into debt and dropping out."
Budget for Bursaries includes an online petition and letter-writing campaign to MSPs through www.budgetforbursaries.com. Stage 1 of the bill took place earlier this week; stage 2, the committee stage, and stage 3, when the final vote will be held in Parliament, will take place over the next few weeks. "We need parties from across the Parliament to protect the poorest students in Scotland," said Mr Burns.