University slashes funding for low-income student bursaries

The University of Edinburgh Scholarship, which awards up to £8,500 of financial support to UK students from low-income backgrounds, will no longer be available to students entering the University in 2020.

This comes only four years after the University increased its funding for student bursaries for students from low-income households from £6.5 million to £8.5 million. This was following research showing that more students would accept offers for undergraduate studies if they were offered larger bursaries.

Since 2016, the Scholarship has increased by up to £1,500 for the lowest income bracket, and by at least £50 in the lower entitlement brackets, though since 2017 it has not been available for new students whose household income is over £35,000.

Despite this steady increase, students entering the University in the 2020/2021 session will instead receive the Access Edinburgh Scholarship, which offers financial support to the same students benefitted by the original bursary.

However, the new Access Edinburgh Scholarship only awards up to £5,000 for estranged students.

Those coming from a household with an income below £21,000 will only receive £3,000, where the University of Edinburgh Scholarship would have awarded them between £4,150 and £8,500.

In extreme cases, students will receive almost a third of the amount from Access Edinburgh than the University of Edinburgh Scholarship would have offered them.

The move will impact students from the lowest income backgrounds the most. In a joint statement to The Student, Oona Miller, Vice President Welfare, and Stephanie Vallancey, Vice President Education of the Edinburgh University Students’ Association said: “The new Access Edinburgh Scholarship streamlines funding for students who require additional support, by providing the same financial support to students from Scotland and the rest of the UK, as well as hopefully making it clearer what funding students are actually eligible for.

“We know, however, that cost of living in Edinburgh remains a significant barrier to University life for many of our current and prospective students, and that this change in the scholarship system may be disappointing.

“Addressing those financial barriers has been a large focus for our team this year, which is why we will continue to lobby and work with the University to ensure that all students are supported financially throughout their studies, be that fighting against additional course costs, promoting affordable accommodation, or ensuring bursaries are fair and sufficient.”

When approached for comment by The Student, a spokesperson for the University said: “Access to Edinburgh Scholarships are absolutely available to 2020 entrants.”

No further comment was made about the reduced funding for the students receiving these bursaries. Students who commenced their studies before the 2020 session will continue to receive the original Scholarship.

 

Image: George Holden via PublicDomainPictures

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The Student Newspaper 2016