Runairea' Chaibineit airson Foghlaim agus lonnsachadh Fad-bheatha CabinetSecretary for Education and Lifelong Learning

Michael Russell MSP/BPA

FIT: 0845 7741741

Ms Kezia Dugdale MSP The Scottish Parliament EDINBURGH' EH991SP


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Ur faidhleNour ref: Ar f;idhie/Our ref: 2012/0039199 December 2012


Thank you for your letter of 29 November to Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare regarding financial support for college students. I am replying as financial support for both further and higher education students forms part of my Ministerial portfolio. Let me assure you that we are committed to supporting our students. For this academic year and next, we have allocated an additional £11 million to ensure that the further education student support budget is maintained at the record level of over £95 million. In August we also introduced the minimum income guarantee for higher education students ensuring that from next academic year, students who need support most will have a guaranteed income of £7,250 per year. These steps, combined with our policy of free tuition, demonstrates our strong commitment to providing Scottish students with the best student support package in the UK and ensures that access to education is firmly based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay. The responsibility of the Scottish Government is limited to the allocation of a global sum of funding for student support for students on further education courses. It is the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) which has overall responsibility for the policy and rules in relation to support for students on further education courses. Similarly, for students pursuing higher education courses it is the Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) which has operational responsibility for delivering financial support to students. As you will be aware, the UK Government has overall responsibility for welfare, including the regulations which govern when benefit payments are stopped prior to students commencing a further or higher education course. However, both the SFC and SAAS are strongly committed to ensuring that students receive financial support as quickly as possible. For that reason, all colleges as well as SAAS invite applications for financial support as a matter of urgency ahead of students taking up courses.
Taigh Naomh Anndrais, Rathad Regent, Dun Eideann EH1 3DG St Andrew's House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EH13DG

I agree there can be a degree of complexity in matters like this where there is significant overlap in policy responsibility between the UK Government and the Scottish Government and its agencies, there is always the potential for difficulties to arise. I look forward to the day when our constitutional arrangements remove the scope for such complexity. In the meantime I can assure you however, that both the SFC and SAAS are firmly committed to ensuring that their respective policies provide maximum benefit to the student and seek to continually improve upon them for that very purpose.


Taigh Naomh Anndrais, Rathad Regent, Dun Eideann EHl 3DG St Andrew's House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EHl 3DG


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