The table linked here – Policy table SP elections 2016 party summaries -pulls together all the material I can find in the 2016 manifestos relevant to this blog’s general interest in student funding in HE. It’s a bit unwieldy and may still be incomplete – feel free to alert me to any major omissions or errors.
The table is organised in two parts. The first looks at how far the parties covered the issues which were identified in advance in this post – A framework for reading the manifestos on student funding – as potentially interesting. The second part covers other points raised by the parties and not anticipated in the earlier post. The table shows that most of the issues identified as possible areas for proposals have been picked up by at least one party.
A few quick initial observations on particular points.
Student grant was so low down the political agenda in Scotland by the start of the last parliament that the SNP in government identified it as a soft target for cuts in 2012 and managed, for quite some time and with the help of the then NUS leadership, to keep that out of public debate. Things have changed. Labour, the Lib Dems and RISE all promise to reverse the SNP’s grant cuts. The Conservatives imply there will be higher grants for poorer students. The SNP will “work to improve” bursaries.
The SNP’s new interest in grant has probably been prompted by some combination of: opposition refusal to let the issue go, increased media interest over time, a change of approach by NUS and – least upliftingly, perhaps – by the decision to cut grants in England from this autumn, making this suddenly a “Scottish distinctiveness” issue. Whatever has done it, it seems that further cuts to grants are at least unlikely.