Improving access – the role of financial support in further and higher education


How is the student support system helping to improve access to Scotland’s colleges and universities? This is just one of the questions being asked by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee as it examines student support.

The student support system in Scotland consists of a mixture of bursaries, grants and loans. The Committee will be exploring how this support is helping students get into further and higher education, and ensuring they are able to complete their courses.

Committee Convener, Stewart Maxwell MSP said: 

“There are more and more young people in Scotland leaving school and going on to further or higher education. For many school leavers, however, this step is still too high and would be impossible without the student support provided through public funding We want to look at how the availability of student support is helping to improve access to education. 

“We know that, for some people, the move from school to college or university can be daunting and student support plays a vital role in allowing these students to stay in education. 

“Our Committee wants to hear from students and all those with an interest in student support to find out what difference it is making.” 

The Committee will consider student support issues in the autumn and has launched a call for written submissions to inform this meeting. The Committee is interested in views on the following: 

The extent to which—

  • the availability and balance of bursary and loan support in higher education
  • the availability of bursary support in further education

are helping to improve access and student retention; and to narrow the educational attainment gap. 


According to figures from Skills Development Scotland, in 2004/05 just under 53 per cent of school leavers went on to further or higher education. By 2013/14 this figure had risen to almost 65 per cent.

Read the call for evidence

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