The Scottish Government has been accused of “faffing” over financial support for Ukrainian students.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats criticised the government for failing to make Ukrainian students studying remotely Ukrainian universities eligible for financial support.
The challenges facing Ukrainian students who have resettled in Scotland was discussed by the Scottish Parliament’s Education, Children and Young People Committee on June 8.
As these students are treated as students who are studying via distance learning, they are ineligible for student financial support from any of the UK funding bodies.
They also may be unable to access financial support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Lib Dem education spokesperson Willie Rennie wrote to the Scottish Government on July 29 highlighting the issue and asking for support students affected.
In response minister for higher and further education Jamie Hepburn said: “Officials from the Higher Education and Science Division and the Student Awards Agency Scotland are also continuing dialogue with the DWP and the UK Government Department for Education to consider what opportunities are available to provide support to these students.”
Rennie has now accused the government of “faffing about” for months on the issue.
He said: “This is an issue affecting a small number of talented and dedicated students who are still completing degrees at Ukrainian institutions but find themselves ineligible for financial support.
“The Scottish Government has spent months faffing about rather than just adjusting the eligibility. This shouldn’t take an army of civil servants.
“All these students want is to complete their degrees and start their professional careers. Scotland will be well placed to benefit from the talents of those who are making a home on our shores, we shouldn’t begrudge them a helping hand in completing their studies.
“None of them asked to be in this situation but Putin’s war has thrown up an exceptional set of circumstances and that requires an exceptional solution.”
In response, the Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are working to ensure that all displaced Ukrainians have the support they need and continue to engage with the UK Government on this matter.
“We have introduced a range of measures to support students, including access to financial support for Ukrainian students and a new £1 million International Students Emergency Fund to support students facing financial hardship as a result of a significant change in circumstances.
“Ukrainians who wish to embark on a further or higher education course, studying in a college or university, are eligible for free tuition and living cost support, providing they have submitted an application to the Homes for Ukraine, Ukraine Family or the Ukraine Extension schemes.”