Good news for students, no news for graduates

SCOTTISH students look set to be better off with the announcement by Scottish Education Secretary Mike Russell of an augmented financial support package.

On top of current benefits such as free tuition, the new package – to be introduced in 2013 – includes an annual minimum income of £7,250 through combined bursaries and loans for students with a family income of less than £17,000; all students will be entitled to an annual student loan of £4,500 a year; and part time students with a personal income of less than £25,000 will now receive full support for tuition fees as a proportion of the full-time fee equivalent.

According to a Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) report however there are still major issued regarding graduate prospects in Scotland.

Fifty-six percent of respondents to CAS questions said they had been unemployed for a period after graduating, of which 20% had been unemployed for more than a year.

Additionally, of those who were under-employed, only 15% said they were confident of finding a graduate level job in the future.

Western Isles Citizens Advice Scotland spokesman Ewan Kennedy commented: “The announcement is a positive step in making sure that students have money in their pockets whilst they are undertaking their studies.

“Also these changes may help alleviate some of the costs of those students coming from more rural areas.

“However, there is still work to be done when on considers that findings of the CAS report ‘Degrees of Insecurity’ show that many graduates are unemployed or underemployed.

“The report concludes that the labelling of unemployed graduates is negative and unhelpful to those looking for work. However, if action is not taken there could be a long term impact on the skills available in rural areas, where skilled graduates leave to pursue work elsewhere.”