Guaranteed income for poorest Scottish students

MEDICAL students from low income families in Scotland will be among those to benefit from a guaranteed income of £7,250 under new government proposals.

All Scottish students whose family income is less than £17,000 will be eligible for the extra income that will be delivered through a combination of bursaries and loans.

Medical and dental students will benefit for the full duration of their study with no reduction in support during their fifth year. Allied health profession students such as radiographers, physiotherapists and dieticians will also be eligible for the extra support.

Under the package of measures, loans of £4,500 a year will be offered to all students while part-time students with a personal income of less than £25,000 will receive full support for tuition fees as a proportion of the full time fee equivalent.

Scottish students are already exempt from paying tuition fees and these extra benefits will come into effect for the 2013/2014 academic year.

They were unveiled by Scottish education secretary Michael Russell who said around 45,000 students would benefit. He said the measures “will help ensure that all those with potential can go to university and achieve their goals, in turn playing a key role in improving our economy in years to come.”

The proposals have been backed by BMA Scotland who welcomed the extra support for fifth year medical and dental students.

Medical students committee chair Mark McInerney said: “This means that the poorest students, who have been disadvantaged under current arrangements, will now be treated more fairly and will have access to more student support when required.”

BMA Scotland said plans were also in the pipeline for a “plus one” rule, allowing students access to an extra year’s funding beyond the end of their degree. This could help medical students cover the cost of a year’s intercalation.