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Labour backs call to helps students through summer

SCOTTISH Labour has backed calls from university and college students for their financial support to continue throughout the summer months in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The party is demanding that the SNP goes further with its financial support, as the impact of coronavirus is set to see widespread job losses and a lack of employment opportunities.

In April it was announced that students would be able to apply for discretionary payments directly from their universities as part of the Student Hardship Fund. 

But students and representative groups published an open letter calling for Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) funding to be provided throughout the summer.

Campaigners behind the summer SAAS push say failure to provide for the extension of student finance over the summer months will mean students facing the choice between eating, paying rent and keeping the lights on.

Politicians have backed the calls and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead was questioned on the issue in Holyrood last week. 

When asked by Green MSP Ross Greer whether SAAS would be extended, Mr Lochhead said that the government is concerned about the situation but there were concerns about the finances involved. 

Now Scottish Labour has added its voice to the calls, with education spokesman Iain Gray asking for a clear answer as to whether further funding will be made available.

The MSP said: “We know that young people are particularly disadvantaged by certain industry closures as they are more likely to make up the majority of the workforce in hospitality, leisure and hotel businesses.

“The Scottish government needs to act quickly and decisively to make sure nobody falls through the cracks because they could not access financial support.”

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