Edinburgh has increased its funding for student bursaries from £6.5 million to £8.5 million, to be specifically allocated for undergraduate students from low income households, according to a press release published on 14 March.
The current bursary package is the largest in the University’s history, according to the press release, and one of the largest offered among UK universities.
According to the release, the motivation for increasing bursaries comes from recent research conducted by the University, which showed that larger bursary pay-outs increased the amount of undergraduates who accepted offers of study, specifically in student groups from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds.
The change comes after various campaigns for bursary increases have been run throughout past years by student activists groups and Edinburgh University Student’s Association (EUSA).
EUSA President Jonny Ross-Tatam said the change was brought on by student pressure, telling The Student: “Our team made it a crystal clear priority that the University must protect and extend bursaries for lower income students particularly when the Government is scrapping vital maintenance grant support.”
He continued: “We made it clear that many students needed these bursaries and this was supported by University research.”
According to Ross-Tatam, when he and his fellow sabbatical officers found out that the university’s current bursary scheme was up for review at the beginning of last year, they used the opportunity to make their stance on the issue clear.
“This is something our team have been pushing the University on at every available opportunity,” he said.
“We are still looking to do a campaign to capitalise on this momentum in the coming months. We hope next year’s team will push hard to further extend the bursaries for more students from lower income backgrounds.”
The current bursary dispersal for students applying to University of Edinburgh in 2016 starts with a £7,000 subsidy of the £9,000 tuition for students coming from families with a residual household income of £16,000 per annum or less, which is available for students from the ‘Rest of the UK’ (RUK) areas of England and Northern Ireland.
Despite being pleased with the current progress, Ross-Tatum qualified his statements, telling The Student: “We still need to extend the bursaries to cover more students from lower income backgrounds, including those with household earnings of between £20k-£30k per annum.”
The current allotment for the £20,000-£30,000 bracket of RUK students is a bursary of £2,000-4,000 per annum.
Ross-Tatam said he thought these needed to be increased to be of better use to students. “Students from low income backgrounds are still less able to access university, stay here and get involved with all the extra-curricular opportunities outside the classroom,” Ross-Tatam told The Student.
“This progress is good, but we need to go further so that all students can afford to get the most out of their time here. To his credit, the Principal has been continually supportive of this. So has the Deputy Secretary, Tracey Slaven. They welcomed our clear stance in support of extended bursaries. We will continue to work to extend the bursaries even further for more students from lower income backgrounds. There is still work to do and that will be a team priority for the rest of our terms,” he concluded.
Image credit: William Warby