Equity in student finance: Cross-UK comparisons

Lucy Blackburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Comparisons with other parts of the United Kingdom have played an important role in justifying decisions made in relation to student funding in Scotland since devolution. This article considers first what comparative claims have been made for the content of student funding policy in four areas: fees, debt, total living cost support and ‘ability to pay’. It compares the position of Scotland with other parts of the UK for each of these in turn. After considering what sort of relationship might exist between student funding policy and widening participation, it then examines what issues for equity and social justice in Scotland are brought out by detailed cross-UK comparisons and questions whether claims that the arrangements in Scotland are more supportive of widening access and more socially equitable than those adopted elsewhere in the UK can be sustained. It argues that while some short term effects may be uncertain, one long term effect of the Scottish system is highly predictable: a regressive distribution of student loan means that the cost of expanding higher education to enable wider participation will be borne disproportionately by graduates from more disadvantaged backgrounds. It concludes that a different approach is needed to the use of cross-UK comparisons if these are to be used to support rather than distract from the achievement of greater social justice in higher education student support policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-47
JournalScottish Educational Review
Volume48
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2016
EventWidening Access to Scottish Higher Education: Getting in and Getting on - Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Dec 20151 Dec 2015

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