Hardship payments to be introduced for struggling students

Many students have been unable to travel back to campus for fear of contracting or spreading coronavirus.

Hardship payments to be introduced for struggling students PA Wire
Government funding announced for students experiencing hardship.

The Scottish Government has pledged £20m in hardship payments for struggling students, the Deputy First Minister announced on Tuesday.

John Swinney, who also serves as Education Secretary, told MSPs a total of £30m would be made available to higher and further education, with the other £10m allocated to universities and colleges for income lost in providing rent rebates.

Details of the scheme for students will be released soon.

Swinney said the impact of Covid-19 on students has been significant, with the Scottish Government not allowing travel back to campus for fear of spreading the virus.

“Not only has there been disruption to their education, we know that many students face financial difficulties with accommodation, associated costs or challenges in getting jobs. This additional £20m will help to alleviate the financial pressure and stress facing many of our students,” he said.

“We are also supporting institutions, many of which have lost revenue by giving students rent refunds or rebates, with an additional £10m.

“This announcement builds on the £37m package of support the Scottish Government has already provided to support students during the pandemic.”

National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland president Matt Crilly welcomed the funding, adding that a number of different funding streams for students had been “decimated” by the pandemic.

He said: “This support is essential in helping Scotland uphold its commitment to fair access to education.

“While Scotland has made important advances in recent years towards widening access to further and higher education, the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and threatens to erode this progress.

“This funding helps ensure we are not only supporting students from all backgrounds into education, but also helping them stay in education.”

Colleges Scotland chief executive Shona Struthers also welcomed the funding, adding: “Many of our students are learning from home and with additional financial hardship caused by the pandemic – we are sure that the much-needed additional funds from Scottish Government will prove beneficial to students during this lockdown period.

“Colleges Scotland will work on behalf of the sector to highlight ongoing challenges.”