Scottish election 2021: SNP to launch £20m summer student support fund

Plans to support students through the summer months in future years are set to be brought in by the SNP after the election, The Scotsman understands.

Nicola Sturgeon’s party is understood to be examining the possibility of bringing in targeted support for students during the summer months as industries most likely to hire from the student population continue to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Student loans currently cover just the academic year, leaving the majority of students without income between the end of May and the start of September unless they find temporary work.

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Such a move would most likely see targeted financial support provided to students for the foreseeable future, but it is understood no firm decisions on the eligibility of such a scheme have been made.

Students could be in receipt of £20m as part of a summer support scheme proposed by the SNP.

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It comes as the SNP also announce a £20 million ‘Summer Student Support Fund’ to help students who cannot find work and do not receive discretionary funds through the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) during the summer.

The move follows a similar policy in June last year where £11.4m was made available to students in financial difficulty.

John Swinney, deputy first minister and education secretary, said: “Covid has meant that summer jobs, particularly in sectors like hospitality that take on large numbers of students each year, are less likely to be available.

"If re-elected, we will act to help them by creating a new £20m Summer Student Support Fund for those unable to find work and who don’t get student support over the summer.

“This election is about the kind of country we want to be, who decides our future and who can keep Scotland safe.

"We will therefore also take a longer look at what the future might hold for summer student support, and review the system to decide how it can be placed on a firmer footing.”

The First Minister is also set to outline a 100-day action plan for the Scottish Government today, should the SNP be re-elected on May 6.

The plan will set out what the SNP will do in the first 100 days of a new government to help ease Covid restrictions, aid the NHS’s recovery from Covid-19 and protect jobs.

Ahead of the launch of the action plan, Ms Sturgeon said the SNP was the only party “ready to get to work”.

She said: “This election is the most important in the history of the Scottish Parliament – and only the SNP are offering a programme for serious government to lead Scotland through the pandemic and into a sustainable recovery.

“Today we will outline the key steps that people in Scotland can expect an SNP Government to take within the first 100 days if we win the election to keep Scotland safe.

“It will show the immediate action we will take to protect our NHS, boost our economy, create jobs and to help Scotland’s children and young people.

“While other parties in this election have failed to put forward a serious plan for Scotland’s future, the SNP is ready to get to work.”

Ms Sturgeon will also reaffirm her party’s commitment to a second independence referendum after the Covid-19 crisis has passed, stating independence could lead to a “sustainable future”.

She said: “Our immediate priority, should we be re-elected, will be to steer Scotland through the Covid crisis and get the recovery underway.

“Polls are showing that the outcome of this election is on a knife-edge, and by giving both votes to the SNP next Thursday, people can elect a government which has the experience and the leadership to lead Scotland through this crucial period and into a sustainable future.”

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