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Wilson to act over late grants

The Education Minister has announced a review of the Student Awards Agency for Scotland following political embarrassment over its failure to process maintenance cheques on time.

The debacle at the agency now appears to be nearing its end and it has dealt with more than 90 per cent of 97,000 applications received by mid-September. But that still leaves one in 10 students without a grant.

Brian Wilson advanced Pounds 27.5 million to universities last month to help students out of financial difficulty. Students on advanced courses in further education colleges have experienced delays since the start of their term in August, the second year this has happened. The agency blamed computer problems and late applications.

Mr Wilson said he had ordered the review of the agency "with a view to ensuring that it regains the capacity to deal with the bulk of applications within its published target time" of 28 days.

Motherwell College says 52 per cent of its higher national students have not yet received cheques. Fifty students who had been told their grants would arrive by October 20 are still being supported by the college's hardship fund.

The Association of Scottish Colleges reports that 57 per cent of students at another college have not been paid, and that 100 of the 1400 HN students who enrolled have now dropped out.

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