Learning support scheme extended

Hundreds of graduates will get help to take up further study and either retrain or enhance their career prospects

thanks to funding announced today.

During the past academic year, the ILA500 scheme has provided partial fees support of £500 to more than 400 part-time students on low incomes or benefits.

Reacting to the current economic climate and the higher than usual level of graduates affected by redundancy, the Scottish Government has decided to extend the scheme for another year.

In a speech at Dundee University, Skills Minister Keith Brown said:

"Postgraduate skills are recognised as increasingly important for forging the knowledge-based economy that is crucial for continuing the economic recovery and beyond.

"More than 70 per cent of Scottish taught post-graduate students study part-time - a hugely important part of our current postgraduate provision.

"We introduced the £500 grant for part-time postgraduate students for the last academic year. It has proved successful, providing real help to existing graduates who are working, facing redundancy or unemployed. Already this year more than 400 postgraduate students have taken advantage of this new funding.

"I am delighted that we are continuing this support and are able to contribute to the difficult task of widening participation in higher education."

It is hoped the scheme will provide immediate, short-term benefit to people affected by the downturn, whether in the workforce, facing redundancy or unemployed.

Changes made last year have opened up the level of qualifications available. The scheme now supports people with higher level qualifications including graduates who may find themselves temporarily unemployed - or on reduced incomes - retrain on a part-time basis at a similar or higher level during the economic downturn.

Courses supported by the funding include counselling, HR management, law, legal practice, teaching qualifications, business studies, maths, sciences and IT.

Independent Learning Accounts (ILAs) are available to part-time students on incomes of £22,000 per year or less. This academic year 422 people used ILA500 funding for postgraduate support.

More than three million people in Scotland can now access ILAs. ILA500 is an extension of the ILA200 which provides up to £200 a year for learners to fund mainly shorter courses and 'bite-sized learning' for people wanting to get back into learning. Around 85,000 people currently hold a 'live' ILA200 account.

ILA funding can be used with around 390 approved learning providers across Scotland, offering around 22,000 courses. This includes colleges, universities, private training providers, voluntary and community-based providers and distance-learning providers.

Source: ©Scottish Government

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