A new partnership between the University of Edinburgh and the Student Awards Agency For Scotland (SAAS) aims to ensure all students will receive the financial support they are entitled to.
This is part of the University’s ongoing commitment to widening participation. The agreement is the first of its kind and will allow SAAS, with students’ consent, to share relevant information with the University.
This means eligible students will now automatically receive Scottish Accommodation Bursaries of between £500 and £2,000 to assist with accommodation cost, eliminating the need to make a separate application.
The University’s Scotland Accommodation Bursary provides the most generous bursary support offered by any UK university to Scotland domiciled students.
So far, over 670 students have received the grant.
Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning expressed his support for the partnership.
Russell said: “We want life to be as simple as possible for students, who have plenty to think about their academic journey without the frustration of needless form filling.
“SAAS and the University should be congratulated for their efforts in reducing the bureaucratic burden on all parties.”
The agreement appears to be unanimously celebrated as a step forward.
MSP Cameron Buchanan told The Student: “I have time and again seen how bureaucracy can be an obstacle to people getting what they deserve.
“The University of Edinburgh and SAAS have pioneered a step forward in bursary provision that I sincerely hope will deliver more help to those who need it most.
“I passionately believe that higher education should be available to all who seek it and I’m sure it can be agreed that this new partnership will go a long way to help in this hugely important task.”
This year over 2,100 undergraduates received bursaries from the University, totalling over £6 million.
David Lawrie, Director of Scholarships and Student Administration told The Student: “As a university, we have a long tradition of providing bursaries and of offering financial support, and I’m happy to confirm that we are offering more bursaries and spending more money on bursaries than we have ever done.”
Speaking to The Student, Kathleen Hood, Head of Widening Participation at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Widening participation [WP] to higher education is a strategic priority for the University of Edinburgh.
“We have been at the forefront of the initiation, design and implementation of WP projects since the early 1990s.”
Despite this, figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that just 67 percent of Edinburgh students come from state schools, compared to 87 percent nationwide. Scottish Universities continue to have the poorest rates of access in the UK.
Statistics released by the Scottish Funding Council this March show that in the 2012/13 academic year only 9.7 percent of incoming undergraduate students came from the areas with the lowest income. They also made up just 8.2 percent of intake at ancient universities such as the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow.
Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi told The Student: “We still face a challenge in making sure that education is as accessible as it should be. That’s why we’ve legislated to ensure that the higher education sector takes responsibility for widening access.”