Scottish Government funding for students in higher education — via fees, loans, bursaries or grants — rose 2.8% to more than £1 billion in the last academic year of 2019-20, according to figures from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).
The latest numbers show 148,570 full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students, 20,030 part-time students and 9,580 nursing and midwifery students — a total of 178,180 — were supported through SAAS.
Average support per full-time student was £6,140 – an increase from £6,010 in the previous session – with the overall amount provided in non-repayable bursaries and grants increasing from £80.2 million in 2018-2019 to £90.9 million last year.
Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “For the total university student support number to top £1 billion for the first time is a really significant milestone – news which is all the more welcome, given the uncertain times in which we are living because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“To see that 10% rise in what is non-repayable money being given to students should prove a welcome boost to many.
“In recent months, of course, the Scottish Government has also been reacting to the financial challenges facing the sector because of COVID-19, including committing to fully funding additional places required as a result of SQA results being regraded.
“In July, we announced our Further and Higher Education Sustainability Plan, which highlights many steps we have taken to support higher education, including the development of an International Student Action Plan, hardship support of £5 million across FE and HE student support and early access to £11.4 million of HE Discretionary Funds.”