An open letter to the Scottish Government regarding a continuation of Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) payments throughout summer for Scottish students has been circulating online.
St Andrews student campaigners, including Association President, Jamie Rodney, created the St Andreans for Summer SAAS Facebook page to promote the letter and advertise a resolution to financial hardship.
The open letter calls on the government to liaise with student bodies, funding agencies, and loan companies to provide financial security for students in further and higher education who may be impacted by COVID-19.
This comes as the last instalment for student loans for Scottish students was given on 11 May 2020.
SAAS has now stopped until the new academic year due to payments being made on a semester-basis.
Campaigners state that summer employment will be limited or unavailable given the current situation and that students will, therefore, be unable to support themselves over the summer months and in some cases, afford university.
Students do not qualify for Universal Credit and with the limited financial support available will face financial hardship.
They also propose that graduate students are unable to access the same opportunity for summer financial security due to graduate schemes and jobs being cancelled or postponed.
This is part of a wider national campaign calling for effective measures regarding SAAS that was started by Amy Smith, Vice President for Education at Stirling’s Students’ Union.
Bob Doris MSP first raised the question of student funding at the First Minister Questions.
This will be Mr Rodney’s last campaign as Association President.
Speaking about the scheme, he said, “Having SAAS payments paid over summer would be an incredible financial lifeline for some Scottish students.”
He continued, “Even if you’re not Scottish, the campaign will still hugely benefit you – the more government finance there is for Scottish students, the more University finance there will be for everyone else.”
“Please sign the open letter and email your local representative, because we’re not going to get this without making a hell of a noise about it.”