At their Conference in Dunfermline, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have passed an emergency motion brought by Liberal Youth Scotland, calling on the Scottish Government to reverse planned cuts to Young Students’ Bursary and to increase the repayment threshold for student loans in line with students in England and Wales.
Earlier this month the Scottish Government announced that all students will receive between £4,500 and £7,250 in student support. However, for independent students the makeup would be £750 bursary and £6500 loans, and for the poorest students under 25 the makeup would be £1,750 bursary and £5,500 loans.
As highlighted by Liberal Youth Scotland, this means that bursaries will be cut by almost £1000. The Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for the Scottish Government to reverse their decision to cut bursary but keep intact the money available upfront in loans.
In a further move to guarantee a better deal for students in Scotland, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have called on the Scottish Government to increase the threshold at which you start to pay back your student loan from £15,000 to £21,000 to bring it in line with England and Wales.
Proposing the motion, LYS Executive member Hannah Bettsworth said:
“The provision of this funding greatly reduces student debt for the poorest students, ensuring that they are not put off from applying.
“As such, there is a real danger that for many students, the loss of bursary and the resulting increase in debt may deter them from applying to university.”
President of Liberal Youth Scotland, David Green, said:
“This move from the SNP burdens the poorest students with even further debt, with some students potentially leaving university with £22,000 of student loan. These bursary cuts make a mockery of the SNP’S commitment to free education”.
“In addition, we believe the threshold is too low in Scotland and students will greatly benefit from this seemingly small but vital change to this system. It’s grossly unfair to ask students to be saddled with additional debt without making this change. Forcing students to borrow more money without increasing the threshold is simply unfair. Students deserve better and we hope the SNP listen to the needs of students in Scotland and seek to implement this change.”
Liberal Youth Scotland’s petition on the issue has attracted over a hundred signatures, with significant support coming from beyond the party. The petition is still available to sign on change.org: