Friday, June 15, 2007
This week, the disparity between Scottish students and other UK students increased
As a student who was from england before I started Higher education, I am still treated as being english even 7 years later. This means I pay £1200 fees to my University each year. It also means that I get a means assessed loan, which is assessed by my LEA, though the loan is from the students loan Company. Also I am not eligible to claim back my travel costs from either my LEA or the university at which I study (approx £40 last year).
Were I to have been born north of the border and followed the same courses, I would have had to pay no fees for my first degree, but £2000 upon graduation. I would have been entitled to the same loan, assessed in the same way, but this time by SAAS a Government agency, with the loan again coming from the student Loan Company. I would have to pay fees for my second degree, but would be entitled to claim travel expenses from home to Uni (i.e. for a normal day on campus), plus all trips to hospitals, and 2 return trips to see my parents each term. And this week the Scottish executive removed the £2k graduate endowment, effective from this year!
If I were from another EU country, discriminating against me in this way would be illegal, but apparently it is ok to discriminate within an EU country between 'regions'! It is enough to drive me to a protest sit in somewhere. My MSP is not interested as they represent only Scottish issues. My MP says it is a devolved matter. The NUS, CHESS and BMA don't seem too worried about it either.
I know that my total debts even after 7 years will be easy to pay off once i graduate and am working 70-odd hours a week for the NHS and that in due course I will earn well above the Scottish average of £17k, but... at the moment it all seems ratehr unfair and penalising.
In an interesting turn of events, my LEA back home say I don't have too pay Fees in 2007-8, and have even increased my loan, so maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel after all.