Student debt soars to £13,000 average despite Sturgeon promise to scrap it

Students graduate from the University of Glasgow. Pictures by Bill Heaney

“We will not force students into deeper and deeper debt. We will restore grants, abolish tuition fees and meet the debt repayments of Scottish graduates living in Scotland. That is a real investment in Scotland’s future.”

This was the commitment given by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to students across Scotland more than ten years ago.

However, that promise has never been kept, according to Dumbarton and Lomond MSP  Jackie Baillie who this week has called on the Scottish Government to apologise after new figures revealed that students are still having to saddle that burden.

The figures show that student debt has soared by 169 per cent to almost £5 billion under the SNP, despite a nationalist pledge to write off student debt entirely.

Average student debt is now £13,200 which is more than double the £6,070 debt that was inherited by the SNP.

In the run up to the 2007 Scottish Elections, Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament that an incoming SNP government would ‘meet the debt repayments of Scottish graduates living in Scotland’. Meanwhile their election literature promised to:

‘… write off the cumulative debt still owed to the student loans company by Scottish domiciled students.’ 

Jackie Baillie and Nicola Sturgeon.

Despite this promise, at the same time as student debt has soared, the average student bursary payment has reduced by 22 per cent. And the figures also show that students from the poorest backgrounds are more likely to take out higher loans.

Jackie Baillie said: ““Despite promises from the SNP to write off student debt, the average debt for a Scottish graduate now stands at more than double the amount that the SNP inherited.

“Students have been left with no other option as the SNP’s support package is weighted towards loans rather than bursaries. And students from the poorest background are being saddled with the biggest debts.

“This government owes students an unreserved apology for failing to uphold the promise that they pledged to would deliver, but turned their backs on as soon as they were voted in.”

Average student debt in Scotland is now £13,200, it was £6,070 in 2007


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