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Higher Education Student Support in Scotland, 2012-13

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Analysis of headline figures

This section provides an analysis of the main findings within this statistical report, using data from each academic session over the 10 year period between 2003-04 and 2012-13. References to numbers of students will always mean students supported by SAAS (unless otherwise stated).

1. Total number of students supported (Table 1)

The number of students supported has increased by 1.0% from 133,990 in 2011-12 to 135,375 in 2012-13. Figure 1 shows that the total number of supported students has been increasing gradually over the years and the 2012-13 figure continues this trend. The number of students receiving fees and the number authorised for loans have also been increasing gradually since 2009-10 session. The number of students receiving non-repayable awards, such as bursaries and supplementary grants, increased in 2010-11 (when Independent Students Bursary was introduced), then decreased in 2011-12 (when support for travel expenses was subsumed within the student loan) and there has been a very small decrease since then.

Figure 1: Students receiving support and/or authorised for loans by SAAS

Figure 1: Students receiving support and/or authorised for loans by SAAS

2. Total support paid and/or authorised for loans (Table 1)

The total amount paid or authorised by SAAS, including tuition fees, bursaries and student loans was £584.3 million. This is an increase of 2.5% (£14 million) on 2011-12 session, when the figure was at £570.3 million. In real terms, this is a 0.7% increase on 2011-12 session[1]. Figure 2 illustrates the 10-year trend in amounts paid or authorised by SAAS for total support, broken down by non-repayable awards, fees and loans. Total support was increasing steadily until 2010-11, then there was little change in 2011-12. In 2012-13, total support has increased again and this is mostly because of an increase in the total amount authorised in student loans. The amount paid out on fees (including fee loans) has also shown a small increase, while the amount paid in non-repayable awards has decreased slightly (see paragraphs 7 and 8 below for further analysis on these changes).

Figure 2: Amounts paid in support and/or authorised for loans by SAAS

Figure 2: Amounts paid in support and/or authorised for loans by SAAS

3. Average support per student (Table 1)

Figure 3 shows the average total support per student paid including fees, awards and loan authorisations. SAAS paid out (or authorised) an average of £4,316 per student in 2012-13. This figure had been gradually increasing between 2004-05 and 2010-11 and since then has been fairly steady. The average amount authorised in loans has been increasing since 2006-07 and now stands at £3,115, an increase of 3.3% since 2011-12 when the average loan authorisation was £3,016. The average amount paid in non-repayable awards per eligible student has not changed since 2011-12, at £1,858.

Figure 3: Average support per student and/or authorised for loans by SAAS

Figure 3: Average support per student and/or authorised for loan by SAAS

4. Domicile (Table 2)

The numbers of Scots domiciled students supported by SAAS showed a very small decrease (0.1%) between 2011-12 and 2012-13 while the number of EU domiciled students has increased by 12.8%. The number of EU students now stands at 13,385 which is 9.9% of the total number supported by SAAS. The number of Scottish domiciled students has been relatively steady since 2010-11, while the number of EU students has been increasing. EU domiciled undergraduate students are usually eligible for a fees only support package and are not entitled to the maintenance loans and bursaries that Scots domiciled students can apply for.

5. Institution location (Table 3)

While the number of students supported by SAAS who are studying in Scotland has been increasing since 2005-06, the number choosing to study outside Scotland has been decreasing. These statistics continue the trend of decreasing numbers studying outside Scotland, with a 5.2% decrease between 2011-12 (4,065 students) and 2012-13 (3,855 students). There is also firm evidence that students studying outside Scotland are more likely to study at a Higher Education Institution (or University) rather than a College. Of the students studying in Scotland, 77.0% are at a Higher Education Institution, compared to 93.2% of those studying outside Scotland.

6. Age and Gender (Table 4)

The percentage of students who are female now stands at 54.4%, this figure has been increasing gradually since 2008-09 when 52.5% of students were female. An analysis of age groups shows a 2.5% increase in the 18-20, a 2.1% increase 21-24 age group and decreases in the numbers of younger and older students. The percentage aged 18-20 now stands at 51.8% (70,190), which continues a trend of increasing numbers since 2006-07. The number of students aged 21-24 has increased by 2.1% over the past year, now at 34,615 (2011-12 figure 33,900). The 25 and over group has decreased for the second year, now standing at 19,980 which is 3.9% lower than the 2011-12 figure of 20,800. The number of students aged 17 or younger has decreased for the third consecutive year, with this group now making up 7.8% of all SAAS supported students.

7. Qualifications (Table 5)

The statistics show another year of growth in the number of students studying for an undergraduate degree, 99,300 in 2012-13. This figure has been increasing each year over the past 10 years (except for a small decrease in 2005-06). Students studying for other undergraduate qualifications (such as a HNC or HND) has shown a small decrease for the first time since 2007-08 from 32,705 in 2011-12 to 32,635 in 2012-13, a 0.2% decrease. The number of postgraduate students has decreased by 8.8%, from 3,775 in 2011-12 to 3,440 in 2012-13. This figure has been decreasing for the past 4 years.

Postgraduate students who are not on Postgraduate Certificate of Education courses are supported through the Postgraduate Student Awards Scheme (PSAS). The scheme was changed in 2012-13, meaning that postgraduate students on selected courses are now eligible for fee loans which they are expected to pay back, rather than tuition fee payments which they did not have to pay back in previous years. In 2012-13, a total of 1,775 students took up this scheme. Of those, there were 375 EU nationals benefiting from the PSAS fee loan.

8. Tuition fees (Table 6)

The total number of students receiving tuition fee payments, including fee loans, has increased by 1.0% between 2011-12 and 2012-13, with 127,090 students now benefiting from a tuition fee payment or fee loan from SAAS. There has been a large increase in the number of students receiving fee loans over the past year, from 3,300 in 2011-12 to 4,840 in 2012-13. The fee loans figure for 2012-13 now includes students on the Postgraduate Student Awards Scheme (PSAS) as well as undergraduate students studying in the rest of UK, who have received fee loans since 2006-07. The increase in students receiving fee loans has been caused by the changes to the PSAS. This means that postgraduate students are now included in the fee loans figure, where previously they would have been included in the tuition fees figure. There is no evidence for an increase in the number of students studying outside Scotland, which has been decreasing each year over the 10 year time series reported in this publication (see Table 3).

The total amounts paid in fees or fee loans has increased by 2.9% from £223.0 million to £229.5 million. This increase is mostly accounted for by the fee loans element, which has increased by 89.8% from £10.9 million to £20.6 million. There are 2 reasons for this increase. First, the fee loans figure now includes postgraduate students who receive a fee amount of £3,400 per year in a fee loan (or £1,700 if they are part-time). Second, UK institutions outside Scotland have increased their fees to a maximum of £9,000 per year. Students at these institutions can opt to take out a fee loan to cover the full fee amount. Both of these factors have led to a substantial increase in the amounts paid out in fee loans.

9. Non-repayable awards (Table 9, Table 10)

The total amount paid in non-repayable bursaries and supplementary grants has decreased by 2.8%, from £103.4 million in 2011-12 to £100.6 million in 2012-13. The number of students receiving such awards has also decreased by 2.8%, from 55,685 to 54,130. The majority of these students are receiving Young Students Bursary (YSB) or Independent Students Bursary (ISB). Both of these awards are designed to support students with a low household income. The number of students receiving ISB has decreased by 6.6% (from 16,755 in 2011-12 to 15,645 in 2012-13) while the number receiving YSB is close to last year's figure.

10. Disabled Students Allowance (Table 11)

Figure 4 shows the number of students supported through Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) and Figure 5 shows the total amounts paid out. The number of students receiving DSA in 2012-13 is 10.0% lower than it was in 2011-12 and the total amount paid is 17.0% lower. There has been a 13.6% decrease in the number of dyslexic students between 2011-12 and 2012-13. Dyslexic students now make up 58.9% of students receiving DSA, compared to 61.4% in 2011-12. Payments to dyslexic students have seen a 21.1% decrease between 2011-12 (£4.0 million) and 2012-13 (£3.1 million).

SAAS's policy on DSA support in 2012-13 is similar to 2011-12 policy (although there were some minor changes to the existing policies as part of ongoing efforts to improve procedures on DSA payments). However, there are still a number of factors that may have had an impact on the decrease in number of students and payments made through DSA. For example, improvements in technology may mean that equipment costs less than previous years, and as institutions improve services for their students, this may mean that fewer students require support from the DSA.

Figure 4: Number of students receiving Disabled Students Allowance, 2003-04 to 2012-13

Figure 4: Number of students receiving Disabled Students Allowance, 2003-04 to 2012-13

Figure 5: Payments made through Disabled Students Allowance, 2003-04 to 2012-13

Figure 5: Payments made through Disabled Students Allowance, 2003-04 to 2012-13

11. Loans (Table 7, Table 8)

Figure 6 illustrates the number of students authorised for loans between 2003-04 and 2012-13. The number of students authorised for maintenance loans in 2012-13 is close to 2011-12, now at 81,640 which is 0.9% higher than the 2011-12 figure (80,875). Over the same time period, the total amount authorised increased by 4.3% from £243.9 million in 2011-12 to £254.3 million in 2012-13. This represents an increase in the average loan per student, up from £3,016 in academic session 2011-12 to £3,115 in 2012-13.

Figure 6: Students receiving loan authorisations from SAAS, 2003-04 to 2012-13

Figure 6: Students receiving loan authorisations from SAAS, 2003-04 to 2012-13

12. Household income (Table 12)

In 2012-13, 60,665 (44.8% of) students supplied information about their household income. Of those, the 25,090 had a household residual income of less than £20,000. This is 18.5% of all students supported by SAAS and this group receive 28.2% of the total support paid out by SAAS. This group make up 42.7% of all students receiving non-repayable awards, and receive 55.7% of the money paid through these awards. The average total support for students in lower household income brackets was much higher than the average across all students, for example the average support for students with a household income less than £10,000 was £6,689 compared to £4,316 across the whole SAAS supported population. Students with a household income between £10,000 and £19,999 received an average of £6,507 in support. Some students choose not to declare their income on their application for support (for example, because their household income would too high to benefit from income assessed support) and are therefore eligible for non-income assessed support only, usually tuition fees or fee loans and an optional non-income assessed loan. In 2012-13 this group made up 41.7% of SAAS supported students and they received 21.3% of the total support paid out or authorised. Comparing the 2012-13 figures to 2011-12, the average total support has increased across all income band categories, with the exception of Income not declared/required which has shown a small decrease from £2,213 to £2,205.