Scottish student unions sign open letter against universal credit

Credit: GUSRC

Joanne Krus
Deputy News Editor

The unions have called out the new benefits system for being unfair to students who are already facing financial difficulty.

Student unions from 29 Scottish universities and higher education institutions, including the GUSRC, have written and signed an open letter urging the Scottish government to end the “unfair treatment of students in receipt of universal credit.”

They say that they are deeply concerned over the detrimental impact universal credit has on students in Scotland and that this goes against their shared commitment to equality and social justice.

The letter says that the unions are concerned that students in Scotland are losing out under this system and that this threatens their education.

They said: “We find it inexcusable that students, many of whom already face barriers in entering further and higher education, should face destitution under the universal credit system for choosing to study.

“Under universal credit, 63p is deducted from someone’s monthly payments for every £1 earned through work. While £110 in student loans and/or grants is disregarded per month for those in receipt of universal credit, beyond this, for every £1 a student receives, the same amount is deducted from monthly payments.

“Inexcusably, students throughout Scotland could have been penalised as much as £250 per month as a result of universal credit.”

The NUS’s Student Support Review Group concluded in 2017 that universal credit was deeply unfair towards students and that there needed to be “special support payment” for students.

England, Wales, and Northern Ireland have already implemented a different system for students and Scottish student unions hope a similar system can be implemented in Scotland.

“As a society we simply cannot afford for students to be trapped within the cycle of poverty, unable to complete their studies and increasing the chances of hardship and unemployment.”

The open letter is available here.