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Universities and Scotland: Student voices heard at Scottish Affairs Committee round table

14 January 2021

The Scottish Affairs Committee has held a round table discussion with undergraduate and postgraduate students seeking their views on the challenges they face around funding, support during the coronavirus pandemic and the implications of Brexit on student prospects.

Students from all of Scotland’s 13 higher education institutions plus the Open University contributed a critical pool of evidence for the Committee’s ongoing inquiry into Universities and Scotland in the online discussion. The inquiry, launched in August, is examining how UK Government policy effects Scottish universities as well as the students, staff and research and how the UK and Scottish Governments can work together to support them.

Round table discussion points

Points the Committee heard during the discussions included:

  • students working part-time to help fund studies, have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic as their loans do not cover the cost of living and supporting incomes have begun to dry up due to lockdown;
  • the pandemic’s negative impact on research and the need for extensions to PhDs, requiring additional funding for delayed lab and fieldwork;
  • concerns over the social impact of a predicted reduction of future EU student numbers at Scottish Universities; and
  • opportunities around the proposed Turing Programme which could provide international opportunities beyond the EU.

Chair's comment

Pete Wishart MP, Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee said:

"It was essential that we speak with students with first-hand experience of accessing funding and the support from universities during the Covid-19 pandemic to get a sense of what it is like on the ground.

What we heard is that whilst the coronavirus is placing a significant strain on the lives of the students we heard from today, that the pandemic is also exacerbating old problems. Today’s discussions with some of the brightest young minds in Scotland will help inform this Committee’s recommendations on necessary Government action.

I’d like to thank all the participants for their informative insights. Some of the most useful sessions we have are when we speak with those on the front line."

Further information

Image: Creative commons license