by Rebecca Weinberg
Student loan debt in Scotland has almost tripled since 2010, revealed Audit Scotland in a new report.
As students feel ever-increasing pressure about their financial futures following this news, UWS News sought out a professional perspective. Kellie McAlonan is the Scotland Policy Representative for the National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA).
Kellie first clarified that, while individual loan debt has increased for students, the £5.5 billion figure being touted by tabloids refers to accumulative national debt. This figure has been accrued by new students taking out inflated loans, alongside ex-students with loan debt from the past 30 years.
However, despite this misunderstanding, Kellie asserted that NASMA believes there are “definite issues” within the student loan system.
“When you apply for a mortgage, the bank gives you information to clearly explain what you are committing to, and what is expected of you. While student loans are a different kind of borrowing, we currently rely on students understanding them independently. Not all students have the financial capability skills to make an informed choice.”
When asked how the Scottish Government plans to tackle this information drought, Kellie referred to a project in the works, titled Student Information Scotland. This platform will “allow students to identify what their student support will be in advance of even applying. The platform will include a significant section on effectively budgeting and planning ahead, and understanding how much things cost.”
The testing phase for this project is expected to begin at the end of March, with a Ministerial Launch announcement scheduled for early June.
While students wait for this new platform, they can seek out information about student loans within their own college or university. An example of this can be found on UWS’ website.
“No one should be left feeling anxious about their money,” Kellie stated. “Whether that’s about repaying the student loan, or other types of debt they might have. Most universities and colleges will have advisers available to help students understand how the student loan works.”