Baillie stands up for students on minimum income restrictions
Clydebank College (West College) and Glasgow University. Pictures by Bill Heaney
By Democrat reporter
Dumbarton and Lomond constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, has backed Scottish Labour’s plans for a minimum student income.
The scheme would be linked to the Scottish Government’s living wage and has the potential to double the financing support available to college students.
Currently, the maximum available college bursary is around £4000 per year, and those in further education have no access to student loans. If agreed by the parliament, Labour’s Minimum Student Income would be worth around £8,550 per year.
In practice, outside of doubling financial support for students, the plan would also fulfil a valuable safety net for students caught between government red tape.
During a parliamentary debate on the subject, Jackie highlighted the case of a constituent who is unable to receive a college tuition fee waiver, despite living in Helensburgh, as her parents have not yet purchased a home in the area due to her father’s Royal Navy submarine deployment at Faslane.
Jackie Baillie said: “The case of my constituent highlights just how detrimental government red tape can be to prospective college students and this case will be one of many across the country.
“There will be hundreds of naval families moving to the area and I am calling on the Scottish Government to remove this unhelpful barrier to young people accessing college.”
The MSP, pictured left, added: “The Minimum Student Income would mean that prospective students no longer have to toy with the uncertainty of being able to handle the living costs which go hand in hand with further and higher education.
“Financial support for students has been overlooked for too long. While free tuition opens doors for some students, it is essential that they have the financial support they need when they actually get to college or university.
“This SNP Government must not delay any longer and plans for a minimum student income must be brought forward as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, also on the education front, responding to the report from the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition highlighting the dramatic increases in Additional Support Needs pupils and reduction in funding for ASN pupils, Jackie Baillie said: “It is a disgrace that with the number of pupils identified as having additional special needs (ASN) increasing by over 50% since 2012, the funding to provide the extra staff needed has decreased so dramatically.
“Instead of the funding for support staff rising with the number of ASN pupils, it has actually seen a 26.7% decrease. It is all the more shocking when you consider that there has been a 68.7% increase in the number of ASN pupils in Scotland’s Schools. So an already over stretched resource is stretched even further.
“Both Argyll and Bute and West Dunbartonshire Councils have seen the consequences of this reduction in funding with the number of support teachers for ASN pupils decreasing by five and 17 teachers respectively. Without the staff and resources to support ASN pupils within mainstream schooling, teachers are left to struggle to make up for the significant lack of funding available to provide the support required.
“With per pupil funding seeing such large reductions since 2012, pupils that are most in need of help are being left without the support necessary and are being failed by the lack of funding for ASN pupils.”