As the Scottish elections draw closer, the focus shifts to that of the leading parties and their manifestos for this season.
In the Scottish Labour manifesto, a “National Recovery Plan” is at the center of priority. This umbrella term is in reference to the various public sectors in which the Party hope to improve.
Having been elected as the Labour leader in February, just 10 weeks prior to the elections, Anas Sarwar has revealed the party’s plans for a post-pandemic Scotland.
Amongst trying to avoid a “social and economic crisis”, as well as taking “steps to reduce the impact of the physical and mental health crises” that the Pandemic has caused, the 5-year projected proposals include that of a restriction-free Scotland, with a strengthened NHS and recovery plans for education, jobs, communities and the climate.
What does this all mean for the young? Where do students fall into the scope of the optimistic Labour future?
According to the manifesto, “Scottish Labour will reinvest in Further Education and give it equality of status with other education routes”. This aims to give students the option to study part-time, as well as providing those with additional support needs with more opportunities. Those living in rural and hard to reach areas will also have the chance to study at home through “distance-learning”, with plans to build on the at-home learning frameworks that have been developed by universities throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
Furthermore, there are intentions to develop the “teaching practice on health and wellbeing throughout the education system with consistent training and additional mental health counsellors in colleges”. In tandem with this, the party believes that there should be an “action plan” for improved access to mental health services by students.
Financial aid for students is also outlined , with the pledge that a “minimum income for students” would be provided for all full-time students. This would ensure that all costs of living during study are met. The party outlines that they ” agree that no student should lose their benefit entitlements because they are in receipt of student funding”, so would create a “special support payment” to ensure that the extra payments by a “minimum income” had no impact on eligibility for those students “receiving benefits”
Support for estranged students is also pledged. This will again include financial aid, as well as support for living in the “absence of family help”. In addition to this, a “bespoke package of support, similar to that received by care experienced students” will be available. Student guarantor schemes are being explored with the intention of ensuring that “no student needs to worry about accessing housing whilst in education”.
In order to tackle the ever-growing gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, there will be a digital device offered to every pupil in order to “close the digital divide”. Additionally, rent controls will be introduced on student accommodation, and action is to be encouraged by universities and colleges to “end gender-based violence and harassment”.
Lastly, there has been correspondence with Welsh Labour over a reinstatement of an International Learning Exchange which will “allow institutions to continue with reciprocal staff and student exchanges under Erasmus”.
The manifesto proposed by Scottish Labour is available here
Feature image credit: Scottish Labour party