Local MSP Jackie Baillie warned that students in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh and Lomond are being forced to take out record levels of debt after the SNP cut grants by 35%.

A newly published report from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland shows that total student borrowing now stands at £430 million, the highest level ever, and students from poorer backgrounds have been hardest hit.

Students from lower income families are being forced to take out loans for living costs after the SNP cut overall spending on grants by £35 million in the last academic year and introduced a new system of means-testing for calculating student support.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said the figures highlighted the need for a wide-ranging debate on providing fairer access to higher education.

Jackie said:

“Student debt has soared by an astonishing 65% in one year under the watch of a party that promised to dump it altogether in their 2007 manifesto.

“These figures show that the SNP cuts are penalising college and university students from the most deprived backgrounds. We need an education policy that passes the fairness test. The SNP will point to free tuition fees, but the reality is that Scotland is now the worst place in the UK for poorer students, worst for widening access and worst for drop-out rate

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