Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Michael Marra said students were being “short-changed” by the Scottish Government as bursaries have not kept pace with inflation.
In 2013 the maximum amount of funding higher education students could receive under the Young Students’ Bursary (YSB) scheme was £2,640, but figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre’s inflation calculator have shown this should now be £3,157 had it not been cut and if it had kept pace with inflation.
However the maximum amount available to students through the YSB this year is £2,000, which Mr Marra said is “a cut of £1,157 in real terms.”
“There can be no doubt that these deep cuts have left Scotland’s poorest students let down and short-changed,” he said.
“These cuts will have had a direct impact on the ability of students from the poorest backgrounds to commence or complete their studies.
“Time and time again, the SNP has failed to tackle the deep-seated inequality in our education system.
“Scottish Labour is committed to ending inequality in our higher education system through a minimum student income and action to put rent controls on student accommodation.
“We can’t have our poorest students short-changed and let down – the time for action has come.”
According to the Scottish Government students in higher education from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in Scotland are able to access a minimum income guarantee of £7,750 per year.
A spokesperson did not respond to claims of a cut but said: “Our policy on free tuition ensures that, unlike elsewhere in the UK, Scottish students studying in Scotland do not incur additional debt of up to £27,000.
“We know that many students have faced additional financial pressure over the pandemic and have provided substantial support of over £96 million in hardship funding, digital access, mental health support and for student associations.
“We will also expand our total student support package to reach the equivalent of the living wage over the next three years.”