We have some great news and some important updates!
A few months ago, JustCitizens responded to the Scottish Government consultation on funding access requirements for further and higher education. We responded to this as part of our campaigning work around this topic and our part in the #OurGradesNotVisas campaign. We had 2 main asks, while welcoming the government’s new regulations:
- That the measure of a “connection to Scotland” did not just apply retrospectively but also took into account the potential for a future home in Scotland and the contributions to society that stem from that.
- We wanted asylum seekers to have access to funding for further and higher education in Scotland so that once they are through the process of seeking asylum, they can begin their lives with fewer barriers to accessing education and work. We also highlighted the role that the asylum backlog is having on mental health, and the fact that many asylum seekers in Scotland could meet the 3 year requirement.
The Scottish Government has now published the consultation analysis here, and has announced two changes to the regulations that will come into force in August 2023:
- Home fee status and student financial support will be extended to all people who have been granted leave to remain the UK by the Home Office (limited AND unlimited), and who are ordinarily resident in Scotland on the date of their course and have been living in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of their course.
- Current unaccompanied asylum seeking children and children of asylum seekers will be now be eligible for home fee status and student support!
The Scottish Government has stated that things that need further investigation before changes to policy are made are expansion of home fee status and student support to adult asylum seekers in Scotland, as well as the flexibility when assessing applications for funding or re-assessing them during changes in residency which may affect eligibility.
Although we will continue to campaign for an extension of funding to all asylum seekers in Scotland, as well as the introduction of flexibility and nuance when taking decisions on the educational fate of a student, we welcome these changes as the first steps in breaking down barriers to education for migrants in Scotland.
We hope this will pave the way to a more fair society which hopes to tackle institutionalised inequality and discrimination. We will continue to advocate and work with our partners to support further changes which make Scotland the leader for inclusion and progressiveness! Well done to all involved.