STUDENTS AWARDS AGENCY FOR SCOTLAND
HIGHER EDUCATION UNDERGRADUATE AND POSTGRADUATE
FOR ACADEMIC YEAR 2012-2013
SECTION PAGE NUMBERS
About the Funds 4
Eligibility at a Glance 6
Residence - General 7
Other Support 12
How Needs are Assessed 14
Advice to Students 16
Treatment of Funds 20
Post Grad Q&A 25
HE Discretionary Fund Q&A 26
Allocations Process – Q&A 29
Part-time Students Q&A 30
USEFUL CONTACT ADDRESSES
Student Awards Agency for Scotland
3 Redheughs Rigg
0300 555 0505
The Students Loans Company Ltd
100 Bothwell Street
Freephone 0870 240 6298
The Scottish Government
Further and Higher Education Participation and Supplementary Student
Information about the Money Doctor’s project can be found at
1. These notes provide guidance to assist managers in the operation of
the Higher Education (HE) undergraduate and postgraduate Discretionary
Funds which have been allocated to them by Scottish Ministers.
2. Institutions should use these guidelines to assist them to devise
suitable systems, for which they will be accountable, to undertake the receipt
and disbursement of the Funds.
About the Fund [top]
Main Changes for 2012-13:
3. From academic year 2012/13, universities will be allowed to transfer
funds between the Undergraduate, Postgraduate & Childcare funds without
restriction, in order to make best use of their funds. However, they will have
to account for any transfers in their audited return to SAAS at the end of
4. From academic year 2012/13 the Postgraduate Student Allowances
Scheme (PSAS) will take the form of a tuition fee loan. Postgraduate
Discretionary Funds are now available to all postgraduate students.
5. The maximum award from the funds to individual students increases
from £3,500 to £4,000.
Purpose of the Discretionary Funds
6. Discretionary Funds are intended to provide non-repayable assistance
for students in financial difficulties in order for them to access and/or continue
in Higher Education (HE) and are paid in addition to any other forms of
student support. In HE, Discretionary Funds are allocated by Scottish
Ministers (via the Student Awards Agency for Scotland) and are administered
by individual institutions. For students in Further Education, the Scottish
Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) issues separate
guidance on the disbursement of Discretionary and Childcare Funds. Further
information can be found at: www.sfc.ac.uk
7. The further and higher education childcare funds in the college sector
are pooled creating a FE/HE discretionary childcare fund administered by the
colleges. The Scottish Government, in conjunction with SAAS and the SFC,
have issued separate guidance for funding officers. This guidance is available
on the SAAS website at http://www.saas.gov.uk/ .
8. It will be for managers to decide how to disburse funds to individual
students. The Funds should be targeted to those students in particular need,
while the criteria being applied should be flexible enough to allow a fair and
just response to individual cases.
Higher Education Undergraduate (UG) Discretionary Fund
9. Support from the UG Discretionary Fund is available to eligible full and
part-time students who are undertaking HNC, HND, Degree or equivalent
courses and to those on PGDE courses. Students in receipt of a means-
tested Department of Health Bursary are entitled to seek assistance from this
fund; however, those in receipt of the Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary
are not. To be eligible for assistance from this fund, students must satisfy the
various criteria laid out in this Guidance.
Postgraduate (PG) Discretionary Fund
10. Support from the PG Discretionary Fund is available to eligible
students who are undertaking a course of full or part-time study unless they
are also in receipt of a Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary while studying
some graduate entry nursing courses.
Eligibility at a Glance [top] ()
Below is a table outlining the criteria for Full-time and Part-time
Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students who can apply for help from the
to apply The Postgraduate Discretionary Fund
Is UK domiciled and is eligible
to receive maintenance
support under legislation UK domiciled.
applicable in Scotland and
other parts of the UK
Must be 16 years or over and
Must be 16 years or over and past compulsory school
Age past compulsory school
Must be attending an
undergraduate course of Must be attending a post graduate course of study
study as defined by SAAS
Must have used full
entitlement of all other
Other available support such as
Support student maintenance support.
(including living cost student
Priority Students with at least one
Students who receive full time fee support from PSAS
Groups dependant child; part-time
and students who receive part time fee support from
for this students; students who have
fund left care; final year students.
For Undergraduate and Postgraduate Discretionary Funds
11. In order to be eligible for support from the Discretionary Funds, a
student must be an eligible student under Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the
Education (Access Funds) (Scotland) (No.2) Determination 2009 or be eligible
to receive maintenance support under certain other pieces of student support
legislation applicable in other parts of the UK. These are set out in:
• The Education (Access Funds) (Scotland) (No.2) Determination
2009. A student falling within one of the paragraphs of Part 2 of
Schedule 3 is able to establish eligibility for support from the
• The Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011 (S.I.
• The relevant piece of student support legislation applicable in
Northern Ireland is the Education (Student Support) (No. 2)
Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 (2009/373)
• The relevant piece of student support legislation applicable in Wales
is the Assembly Learning Grants and Loans (Higher Education)
(Wales) (No. 2) Regulations 2011 (2011/886)
12. The following provides a summary of some aspects of the eligibility
criteria set out in Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Education (Access Funds)
(Scotland) (No.2) Determination 2009. In all cases please refer to the
Determination or relevant regulations set out above when assessing eligibility.
If you require further guidance on the application of the criteria set out in the
regulations above, please contact SAAS on 0131 244 4706.
13. A number of the paragraphs in Part 2 of Schedule 3 require that an
individual be either or both “ordinarily resident” in Scotland on the first day of
the first academic year of the course and to have been ordinarily resident in a
particular geographical area (eg, in the case of para 1 of Part 2 of Schedule 3,
“the United Kingdom and Islands”) throughout a period of 3 years immediately
preceding the first day of the first academic year of the course.
14. The words “ordinarily resident” have been interpreted by the courts as
having a particular meaning. The way in which the courts express the
meaning of the words varies from case to case but two examples which might
be considered helpful are:
• the place where a person is “habitually or normally
resident……….apart from temporary or occasional absences of a long
or short duration”
• a person’s “abode in a particular place or country which he has
adopted voluntarily and for settled purposes as part of the regular order
of [his or her] life for the time being, whether of long or short duration”.
While the words “ordinarily resident” have this general meaning the
Determination contains additional provision (see Part 3 of Schedule 3)
relevant to how the phrase “ordinarily resident” falls to be interpreted for the
purposes of the Determination. For example, para 4 of Part 3 of Schedule 3
makes provision for certain circumstances in which a student will not be
considered to be ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom for the 3 year
period referred to in para 1(b) of Part 2 of Schedule 3 if the institution is
satisfied that the person was resident there for any part of that period wholly
or mainly for the purposes of receiving full time education. By way of further
example, provision is also made in Part 3 of Schedule 3 which means that in
certain circumstances a student will be deemed, for the purposes of assessing
whether he meets certain of the eligibility criteria set out in Part 2 of Schedule
3, to have been resident in a particular place at a particular time/for a
particular period even if he or she was not actually so resident because that
student or certain others (eg a parent, spouse or civil partner) was temporarily
employed or studying elsewhere (see, paras 2 and 3 of Part 3 of Schedule 3).
Please contact SAAS for further information and advice.
Settled status (Paras 1 and 4 of Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Determination)
15. Two of the paragraphs in Part 2 of Schedule 3 (paras 1 and 4)
generally require a student to have ‘settled status’ – ie to be settled in the
United Kingdom within the meaning given by section 33(2A) of the
Immigration Act 1971.
A person will be settled in the UK within the meaning of section 33(2A) of the
Immigration Act 1971 if they are ordinarily resident in the UK and are not
subject under the immigration laws to any restriction on the amount of time
they may stay in the UK. This would include UK nationals, non-UK nationals
with indefinite leave to enter or remain, and nationals of EEA states (other
than the UK) and their family members who have attained a right of
permanent residence in the UK under Directive 2004/38/EC (as implemented
in the UK by the Immigration (European Area) Regulations 2006).
16. A student with ‘settled status’ will be eligible if they are ordinarily
resident in Scotland on the first day of the first academic year of the course
and have been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom and Islands
throughout the 3 year period immediately preceding the first day of the first
academic year of the course (para 1 of Part 2 of Schedule 3).
17. A student with ‘settled status’ who does not meet both of these
ordinary residence criteria (ie those in paras 1(a) and (b) of para 1 of Part 2 of
Schedule 3) may be able to establish eligibility on the basis of para 4 of Part 2
of Schedule 3. Para 4 of Part 2 of Schedule 3 enables a UK national (and
certain family members of such nationals) and persons with a right of
permanent residence in the United Kingdom under Directive 2004/38/EC to
establish eligibility where they
• were ordinarily resident in Scotland and settled in the United Kingdom
before utilising a right of residence elsewhere in the EEA or Switzerland
(or, in the case of a person who has a right of permanent residence in
the United Kingdom under Directive 2004/38/EC, has gone to the state
within the EEA and Switzerland of which that person (or that person’s
family member) is a national; and
• have been ordinarily resident in the EEA and Switzerland throughout
the 3 year period immediately preceding the first day of the first
academic year of the course (provided that if that residence has been
wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full time education, the
person was ordinarily resident in the EEA or Switzerland immediately
before the 3 year period).
Non-UK EC nationals (Para 9 of Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Determination)
18. A person who is a non-UK EU national (or the child of such a person)
is eligible to apply, provided he or she is ordinarily resident in Scotland on the
first day of the first academic year of the course, and has been ordinarily
resident in the UK and Islands throughout the immediately preceding three
year period (provided that if that residence has been wholly or mainly for the
purpose of receiving full time education, the person was ordinarily resident in
the EEA or Switzerland immediately before the 3 year period).
19. Note that, broadly put, EU nationals (other than a UK national who has
not utilised a right of residence - ie exercised a right under Article 7 of
Directive 2004/38/EC or any equivalent right under the EEA Agreement or the
Switzerland Agreement in a state other than the UK) and their family members
are able to establish eligibility for tuition fee support from the Student Awards
Agency for Scotland on the basis of para 9 of Schedule 1 to the Students’
Allowances (Scotland) Regulations 2007 (“the Allowances Regulations”)
where they have been ordinarily resident in the EEA, Switzerland or the EU
overseas territories during the relevant 3 year period prior to the start of their
course. There is no equivalent to para 9 of Schedule 1 to the Allowances
Regulations in Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Determination and so unless such
EU nationals are able to establish eligibility on the basis of another para of
Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Determination (or on the basis of one of the other
relevant pieces of student support legislation applicable in England, Wales or
Northern Ireland – on which see para 11 above) they will not be eligible for
support from the Discretionary Funds.
Economically Active EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members
(Paras 2 and 3 of Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Determination)
20. Paras 2 and 3 of Part 2 of Schedule 3 apply to certain economically
active EEA and Swiss nationals (para 2) and their family members (para 3)
who have been ordinarily resident in the European Economic Area or
Switzerland throughout the period of 3 years immediately preceding the first
day of the first academic year of the course, and who are ordinarily resident in
Scotland on the first day of the first academic year of the course.
Child of a Turkish Worker (Para 11 of Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the
21. A Turkish worker is a Turkish national who is ordinarily resident in
Scotland and is or has been lawfully employed in the UK. Their child is
eligible if they are ordinarily resident in Scotland on the relevant date and
have been ordinarily resident in the EEA, Switzerland or Turkey throughout
the period of 3 years preceding the first day of the first academic year of the
Refugees (Para 5 of Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Determination)
22. Applicants who have been granted refugee status (ie recognised by the
UK Government as a refugee) and have been ordinarily resident in the UK
and Islands at all times since they were first recognised as a refugee (or who
are the spouse, civil partner, or child of such a person) are eligible to apply,
provided they are ordinarily resident in Scotland on the first day of the first
academic year of the course.
Persons refused refugee status but allowed to enter or remain in the UK
(Para 6 of Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Determination)
23. People who have applied for but been refused refugee status but
granted a form of leave to enter or remain are also able to apply provided they
are ordinarily resident in Scotland on the first day of the academic year of the
course and have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands at all times
since the person was first granted leave to remain. The spouse, civil partner
and child of such a person will also be eligible provided they are ordinarily
resident in Scotland on the first day of the first academic year of the course.
Temporary Protection (Para 8 of Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Determination)
24. Students who have been granted temporary protection (within the
meaning of Part 11A of the Immigration Rules) and are under 18 on the
“relevant date” (see Part 1 of Schedule 3) are eligible if they are ordinarily
resident in Scotland on the first day of the first academic year of the course,
and have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands at all times since they
were first granted temporary protection.
Child of Swiss nationals (Para 10 of Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the
25. The child of a Swiss national who is ordinarily resident in Scotland on
the first day of the first academic year of the course and who has been
ordinarily resident in the EEA and Switzerland for the preceding 3 year period
(provided that if that residence has been wholly or mainly for the purpose of
receiving full time education, the person was ordinarily resident in the EEA or
Switzerland immediately before the 3 year period) will also be eligible.
Iraqi Nationals – Locally Engaged Staff Assistance Scheme (Para 7 of
part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Determination)
26. Iraqi nationals who: have been granted indefinite leave to enter the UK
under the Locally Engaged Staff Assistance Scheme (Direct Entry) operated
by the Home Department; have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands
since they were first granted that indefinite leave;, and are ordinarily resident
in Scotland on the first day of the first academic year of their course are
eligible for Discretionary Funds. In addition, their spouses, civil-partners and
children are also eligible if ordinarily resident in Scotland on the relevant date.
27. Under the temporary non-resident arrangements, forces personnel are
treated as being resident at the establishment where they are based. If they
are ordinarily resident in Scotland but are serving overseas, they would be
28. Students are not eligible for support from Discretionary Funds unless
they are deemed to have attained the age of 16 years under section 33 of the
Education (Scotland) Act 1980. So students entering HE before they are
deemed to have reached the age of 16 are not eligible to apply for support
from the Discretionary Funds.
29. Institutions must be satisfied that students are attending/undertaking
an appropriate course of education and that their attendance is satisfactory.
PREVIOUS STUDY RULE/LINK TO TUITION FEE ELIGIBILITY
30. There are no previous study rules which attach to the Discretionary
Fund. Students who cannot attract tuition fee support due to previous study
can still be considered eligible for support from the Discretionary Funds.
OTHER SUPPORT [top]
Full Time Students
31. Student loans are an integral part of the system of student support.
Students who are eligible for a maintenance student loan are, of course, free
to decide whether to take out a loan and, if so, how much to borrow.
However, a full-time student must have taken out a maintenance student
loan, if eligible, and applied for the full amount to which they are entitled
before receiving help from the undergraduate Discretionary Fund. Institutions
should contact the Student Loans Company if they are unsure whether a
student has applied for their maximum maintenance loan entitlement.
32. Students do not need to have taken out their tuition fee loan (if eligible)
in order to receive assistance from the Discretionary Funds.
Part-time HE Undergraduate and Part-time Postgraduate Students
33. Funding of up to £500 towards the cost of tuition fees is available to
new and existing students who have reached the eligible school leaving age
and whose individual income is £22,000 a year or less. Eligible learners
should be studying a part-time advanced level course (HNC, HND, a Degree,
PDA or CPD at SCQF level 7-11) and complete between 40-90 SCQF credits
per year. Existing postgraduate students (SCQF level 11) can apply for the
Part-time Fee Grant in academic year 2012-13. However, new students will
have to apply for the new tuition fee loan. From academic year 2013-14,
postgraduate students will not be eligible for the Part-time Fee Grant. (Those
studying less than 40 SCQF credits may be eligible for up to £200 from ILA
34. Discretionary Funds are not intended to provide additional study
support that is available from the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) unless
the DSA is insufficient to cover the whole cost, or the cost cannot be met from
the DSA. The funds can be used to meet the cost of a diagnostic assessment
(mainly for dyslexic students) as this cannot be met from the DSA.
MODE OF STUDY
35. The Discretionary Funds must only be used to assist students in one
of the following groups:
• For the Undergraduate Discretionary Fund, students who are
undertaking full or part-time undergraduate courses in HE.
• For the Postgraduate Discretionary Fund, full or part-time
postgraduate students who are studying in HE at levels above first
36. Following an evaluation of the Discretionary Funds prior to academic
year 2007/08, the eligibility criteria for support from these funds for part-time
students has been widened to include all those part-time students classified
as not full-time.
37. From academic year 2011-12, the supplementary travel grant for HE
students ended and instead the maximum income assessed loan was
increased by £350. Institutions should be aware that some students may
experience financial difficulties due to these changes and subsequently they
may see increased applications for help from the HE Discretionary Funds,
• 5th year Medical/Dental students who do not receive the additional
£350 to the loan as they are only eligible for the non-means tested
• Allied Health Professional (AHP) students who also do not receive the
additional £350 as they receive funding via the Health Directorate.
• Students commuting longer daily distances to and from their institution
for example, travelling from parts of Ayrshire to Glasgow or from
Lothians/Borders to Edinburgh
BACK TO TABLE
How Needs are Assessed [top]
38. Institutions are best placed to decide who, based on need, should
receive support from the Discretionary Funds.
39. In the needs assessment, institutions will need to consider what
evidence should be provided of a student's financial position. For example
instead of a single bank account balance, monthly statements may better
indicate this. Evidence regarding student loan support might be helpful as
well, for example a copy of the loan agreement/award letter.
40. When assessing applications, details of the student's weekly income
(including partner's income where applicable) and expenditure should be
provided. Information that will typically be required from students to support
their application is detailed below as a guide.
HOUSEHOLD INCOME EXPENDITURE
Gross Income/Earnings from Employment Mortgage/Rent
Pension Income Council Tax
Benefits Income* Formal Childcare Costs
Income from Rent/Lettings Bank Loan Repayments
Career Development Loan Food/Housekeeping
Scholarship Income Gas/Electricity
Child Support Payments Child Support Payments
Supplementary Grants (other than DSA)
(* excluding DLA - Disability Living Allowance)
41. Institutions may ask students to provide any other information which
they believe is relevant to the application, e.g. marital status; number of
dependant children and their ages; whether the student is a homeowner or
tenant; any outstanding debts incurred prior to the start of the course; whether
the student has savings etc.
42. It is for institutions to decide what evidence is required in order to
verify the information provided by the student. However, in the interests of
prudence and value for money, institutions should examine a random sample
of cases to compare estimated expenditure with actual expenditure incurred.
Students should therefore be informed that they may be asked to provide
proof of actual expenditure later in the year. Institutions must remember
however, that payments from the undergraduate Discretionary Fund should
only be made when the student has applied for their full maintenance student
loan and supplementary grant entitlement (if eligible).
Factors for consideration in the assessment of need:
• whether the claimed deficit between income and expenditure
constitutes real need and cannot reasonably be reduced to a
manageable level by the student;
• whether the payment should be in instalments or in the form of a short
term repayable cash advance;
• the availability of support from alternative sources, for example,
bursaries, assistance from SAAS, assistance from a Local Education
Authority (for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland),
Social Security Benefits, Career Development Loans or similar
• the circumstances of students and types of need prevalent locally and
any existing local schemes for improving access;
• the frequency with which payments to individuals should be made and
entitlement reviewed; and
• in considering requests for support from the Funds from students who
have temporarily suspended their studies through illness, or who may
be experiencing difficulty in finding a placement in industry as an
essential part of their course, institutions should first check whether the
student continues to be registered as a student. They should also take
into account the prospect of the student resuming his or her course and
the availability of support from other sources.
ADVICE TO STUDENTS [top]
43. Institutions may receive enquiries about assistance from all the Funds
before courses actually start. Those administering these Funds may advise
prospective eligible students of the amount which they will receive on starting
44. Previously, students who had to pay towards course fees or
examination costs were able to claim tax relief via the Inland Revenue. This
was abolished in 2001 so any student wishing further advice should contact
the HMRC office that currently deals with their tax affairs. This can be found
via the following link:
DISBURSEMENT AND PAYMENT AMOUNTS [top]
45. Assistance from all the Funds may be given in the form of a cash
payment to the student
46. Institutions will decide how to disburse funds to individual students.
The Funds should be targeted to those students in particular need, while the
criteria being applied should be flexible enough to allow fair and proportionate
response to individual cases.
47. It should be remembered that very large individual payments to a few
students disproportionately reduces the amount of funds available for other
cases of hardship. Normally, individuals should not receive payments totalling
more than £4,000 from the Discretionary Funds towards living costs in any
one academic year. Similarly, very small amounts may cause an
administrative burden, however, if the payment of small amounts is
considered to be an effective means of dealing with an application, then
institutions are free to disburse as they consider appropriate.
48. As a general rule the Discretionary Funds should not be used to make
good failure to receive household contribution.
49. Managers are free to take account of any other factors they decide are
50. Institutions should operate a rolling programme for applications so that
students can apply for help at any time during the academic year as opposed
to institutions simply considering applications for assistance at two or three
fixed times a year. Institutions should also seek to ensure that applications
are processed as quickly as practicable.
51. Included in the allocation of discretionary funds is a fund for
administration which can be used to cover reasonable costs for audit and
advertising and publicity of the discretionary and childcare funds.
52. Institutions will wish to ensure that a disproportionate amount of funds
are not being used to recruit those who would otherwise be deterred from
commencing a course rather than meeting cases of hardship ensuing after
students have started their courses.
53. As some students find that they need financial assistance late in the
academic year, perhaps because they have not been able to find temporary
employment for the summer vacation, institutions may consider it prudent to
hold back some of the Funds, and keep in place arrangements for considering
54. Institutions can use the Discretionary Funds to provide scholarships or
bursaries to assist with meeting the living costs, but not the tuition fees, of
students who would otherwise be deterred from entering or continuing HE
because of their financial circumstances. Such assistance is, however,
subject to the maximum limit of £4,000 and the total that can be spent by
institutions on new bursaries in the academic year should not exceed 10% of
the institutions' total Discretionary Funds budget. A key principle of this
bursary scheme is that students should know in advance of starting their
course what assistance will be available to them, although no payments
should be made until the student has enrolled. The bursary scheme should
not be used, however, to top up an existing studentship or postgraduate
award made by SAAS or any Research Council.
55. Institutions should be aware of the need to retain enough money in the
Discretionary Funds for emergency use and the potential impact of bursary
support on benefits entitlement.
56. Students from the rest of the UK will continue to be eligible to apply for
support from the Discretionary Funds. For instance, an English student
studying at a Scottish institution, is eligible to apply to the Discretionary Funds
for assistance, if in financial difficulties. Institutions should ensure that RUK
students are aware of their eligibility to access support through Discretionary
Funds, to ensure that those that require financial support can apply for it.
Students on benefit in the second and subsequent years of their course
57. Students commencing their course in the coming academic year
continue to be able to claim any income-related benefits to which they are
entitled until such time as they commence their course. For continuing
students, however, the DWP takes the student loan into account from 1
September until 30 June. Therefore, students who are about to start their
second or subsequent years – and who may have been able to claim benefits
over the summer vacation - may find that they cannot claim their benefits after
1 September. As a result students may need assistance from the
undergraduate Discretionary Fund until they receive their loan payment at the
start of the autumn term. This can be made as a short-term repayable loan
and any students applying for this should be asked to provide documentary
evidence that: a) they have completed the previous year of study and b)
evidence from DWP that their benefits have ceased with effect from 1
September. It is at the institution’s discretion whether the student has provided
the necessary evidence. Institutions should ask the student to sign a
declaration that they will repay any such loan received.
Arrangements for Further and Higher Education Means Test
58. Since academic year 2008/09 there have been new arrangements in
further and higher education to the means test which is applied to student
support. While the new income assessment ensures that everyone is being
treated equally and allows us to make best use of the available student
support funds by targeting them towards those who need it most, there may
be some additional pressure put on the Discretionary Funds as a result of the
changes. From 2008/09, all new and continuing students are being
assessed using household income. The revised means test will treat a
partner’s income in the same way as spouse income.
59. As a result of these changes, some students may be affected
adversely in terms of receiving less support than they previously did and are
thus potentially more likely to be seeking assistance from the Discretionary
Fund. These are:
• Students who were previously assessed in a single parent family, may
have had their student support reduced under the new income
assessment, if that parent has a partner. The old income assessment
did not recognise a partner’s income unless they were married, had a
step-parent or were in a civil partnership, but the new income
assessment takes an unmarried partner’s income into account.
• An independent student who has a co-habitee partner was previously
assessed using just their own unearned income. The new means test
arrangements mean that the co-habitee partner’s income is taken into
• Lone parent students who receive maintenance payments will now
have this money taken into account in their assessment.
60. Not all students in the system will be in genuine hardship as a result of
the changes. The new means test will mean that some students will be
eligible to receive a higher level of support from the household or their partner
than they did previously. However, we do recognise that some students may
experience financial difficulties as a result of the changes. Those students
who are in genuine hardship as a result of the changes will be able to apply
for help through their institution’s discretionary funds.
TREATMENT OF FUNDS BY INSTITUTIONS [top]
Appeals, Applications and Decision-Making Process
61. Institutions should have an appeals procedure in place for cases
where students have applied unsuccessfully for help from all the Funds. This
procedure should be clear and students should be informed of their right to
appeal. It will be for each institution to resolve any appeals internally with
individual students about the award of a payment from the Funds. Appeals
should not be referred to the Scottish Ministers or SAAS.
62. Institutions should have a transparent application and decision-making
process. Again it will be for each institution to ensure that they have their own
arrangements in place.
63. Institutions are responsible for publicising the availability of these
Funds to their students.
Treatment by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of payments
from both Funds
64. Payments from the Funds will be disregarded as long as they are not
intended for general living costs and do not, therefore, duplicate provision
from the benefits system. However, payments in relation to housing costs
which could be met by income related benefits will be regarded as income by
Allocation & payment of funds
65. The Funds allocated to each institution are usually notified annually by
July and paid in August for the full academic year.
66. The Undergraduate Discretionary Fund allocations take into account
the overall numbers of full-time equivalent students, the number of full-time
equivalent students aged 25 and over and the number of SAAS supported
students declaring parental/spousal income of £19,310 and less. The
Postgraduate Discretionary Funds are allocated on the basis of
Transfer and carry forward of Funds
67. Institutions can transfer any unused funds between the Undergraduate,
and Postgraduate Discretionary funds.
68. Universities can transfer funds between their childcare funds and the
discretionary funds without restriction, in order to make best use of their funds.
69. Colleges will not be allowed to transfer funds from the joint FE/HE
Childcare Fund into the HE Discretionary Funds because these funds are
administered by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).
70. All transfers between funds must be accounted for in the audited
returns to SAAS at the end of October.
71. Institutions cannot carry forward any of their total original funds
allocation into the following academic year. Any unused funds should
be repaid to SAAS by 31 October.
72. Each institution must nominate a Funds Manager to administer each
(or all) of the Funds. Payment of Funds is conditional on the acceptance, in
writing, by the Fund Manager(s) of the following requirements:
• full and proper accounting records will be kept of all Fund
• adequate systems of financial management and control are in place;
• all Funds will be applied in accordance with the requirements set out
in annual guidance.
73. Institutions should operate a separate interest bearing account for the
funds and any interest that accrues should be recognised as income for the
funds. Institutions must not transfer accrued interest to any other accounts
74. Fund Managers shall engage the services of an independent auditor
who is eligible for appointment as a company auditor under the terms of
section 485 of the Companies Act 2006. Alternatively, where this proves
impractical, permission may be sought from SAAS to use a suitably qualified
person (e.g. CIPFA). The Fund Accounts must be audited separately from the
Institution’s accounts. The auditor's report, in addition to giving an opinion on
each of the fund accounts, should say whether, in the auditor's opinion, the
funds have been properly applied in accordance with the requirements set out
in this guidance. For the purpose of administering the funds, the Fund
Managers shall maintain an adequate system of financial management and
internal controls, including safeguards against fraud, and shall require their
auditors, as part of their audit, to report on the adequacy or otherwise of that
system. A copy of the auditor's report should accompany the Fund
Accounts and must be submitted to SAAS by 31 October.
75. From academic year 2011-12, the Childcare Administration Fund has
been subsumed into the Higher Education (HE) Discretionary Funds.
Reasonable administration expenses for auditor’s fees and publicity for
both childcare and discretionary funds can be met from the HE
76. Books and other documents relating to all Fund Accounts shall be open
to inspection by Scottish Ministers and by the Comptroller and Auditor
General (Audit Scotland).
77. Institutions must advise SAAS, in writing, if the details of their Fund
Manager(s) and/or bank account(s) change. SAAS will provide a form for this
purpose to be completed and returned by the institution.
78. Institutions must not spend more than their total allocated funds in any
academic year as this places the following year’s students at an immediate
disadvantage in terms of the funds available. If a supplementary allocation of
funds is required, an application should be made from the In-Year Re-
Annual audited returns required by SAAS
79. Each year, when funds are allocated and paid by SAAS, Fund
Accounts returns for the previous academic year are distributed to institutions
for completion and submission to SAAS by 31 October.
80. Each institution will provide SAAS with:
• audited income and expenditure Fund Accounts for the preceding
academic year, signed/authorised by the Principal and independent
• details of Funds expenditure;
• repayment of any unused Funds, as recorded in the return;
• if required, request for a supplementary allocation of funds for the
current academic year from funds available for “re-distribution”; and
any statistical and other information required by SAAS.
81. Returns must only be made on the Annexes provided by SAAS
and should be sent to - Finance Team, Room 216, Student Awards
Agency For Scotland, Gyleview House, 3 Redheughs Rigg, Edinburgh,
EH12 9HH. Telephone 0300 555 0505
In-year re-distribution of supplementary funds
82. Towards the end of each year, SAAS accepts applications from
institutions who need an additional in-year supplementary allocation of
funding. Applications should be submitted with the audited Fund Accounts for
the previous academic session. The supplementary funds available for
allocation across institutions is the total unspent by institutions in the previous
academic session and repaid to SAAS
Supplementary allocations are determined as follows:
• SAAS totals the repayments from all institutions to determine what is
available for supplementary allocations (it is possible that no funds
will be available, but this would be unusual).
• if funds are sufficient, the full amounts requested will be paid as
• if funds are insufficient, allocations may/will be less than requested
• if funds are severely limited, allocation will be determined on a needs
• if no funds have been repaid from the previous academic session, no
supplementary allocations will be possible.
83. All supplementary funds will be allocated as Undergraduate
Discretionary Funds and should be distributed by applying the
Undergraduate Discretionary Fund criteria.
84. Failure to provide audited Fund Accounts by the 31 October
deadline will have an impact on the value and timing of the allocation of
supplementary funds and may result in requests for supplementary funds
Financial year information required by SAAS
85. SAAS has a responsibility to report its expenditure on a financial year
basis (01 April to 31 March). As the Funds are distributed on an academic
year basis, SAAS will require interim Funds balance information as at 31
86. SAAS will write to all Fund Managers in March to request the value of
Funds that have not been allocated at 31 March and will require the
information by mid April to incorporate into the Scottish Government’s audited
87. Funds allocated directly for students should not be used to meet
administration costs including staff salaries adaptation of buildings or the
provision of group or communal facilities.
Q & A [top]
Q Why has a tuition fee loan
been introduced for
A From academic year 2012-
13, postgraduate funding will be a
tuition fee loan. The new
arrangements will mean that
around 5,000 full and part-time
postgraduate students will be
eligible for tuition fee loan, which is
nearly twice the number who were
able to benefit under the old
Q Who is eligible for
A All postgraduate students
full-time or part-time are eligible to
apply for Postgraduate
Discretionary Funds, except for
PGDE students who can access
the Undergraduate Discretionary
Fund and postgraduate nursing
students who receive the Nursing
and Midwifery Student Bursary.
HIGHER EDUCATION (HE)
Q. Can the Discretionary
Q & A [top]
Fund be used to help a student
whose parents refuse to make
Q. Some students won’t take
their contribution to his or her
out a maintenance loan because
of their religious beliefs. Are
they eligible for assistance from
A. No. The Discretionary Fund
the Discretionary Fund?
should not be used to make good a
lack of parental contribution as a
A. Full-time students must take
matter of course. However, the
out their loan, if they are eligible for
Fund is intended to help students in
one, in order to be considered for
hardship, and on that basis
support from the Discretionary
institutions may help any eligible
Funds. Institutions may, however,
student in need. It is important to
find it helpful to explain that the
emphasise that institutions should
interest rate attached to student
treat such cases carefully, and that
loans merely repays the loan in real
it is made clear that no student has
terms and is tied to the rate of
an automatic right to a payment
inflation. It is not an interest rate in
from the Fund where the parental
the commercial sense of the word,
contribution is lacking. Institutions
and no profit is made from the
must, of course, check that the
interest paid by borrowers.
student has applied for the
maximum loan they are entitled to.
Q. Can the Discretionary
Where a student’s parents have
Fund be used to pay the arrears
refused to complete their income
on a student loan, where the
details on the SAAS application
student has defaulted?
form, and students have therefore
only been able to take out the non
A. No. However, if a student
means-tested element of their loan,
were in difficulty as a result of not
this does not make them ineligible
being able to receive a student
for help from the Discretionary
loan, the student would be able to
apply for help in meeting their living
Q. Are those students who
are in receipt of a Dept of Health
Q. Can students apply more
bursary eligible for Discretionary
than once during an academic
year for help from the
A. Yes, if they are eligible for
the means-tested bursary. If,
A. Yes. Students’
however, they are eligible for the
circumstances change in the
non means-tested bursary (i.e.
course of a year, and there should
students supported under the
not be any set limit on the number
Nursing and Midwifery Student
of times a student can apply for
Bursary Scheme), they are not
help through the Discretionary
entitled to help from the
Q. Can the Discretionary whether the student continues to
Fund be used to pay the tuition be registered as a student. They
fees of those students who should also take into account the
continue to be liable for their prospect of the student resuming
fees e.g. part-time students? his or her course and the
availability of support from other
A. No, the Discretionary Fund sources.
must not be used to help students
meet their tuition fees. Q. Are institutions free to
move Discretionary Funds
Q. Previously we gave between themselves?
Discretionary Funds to a student
who we later found out was A. No. There would be no
ineligible. As it wasn't the guarantee that another institution
student's fault, can we continue would not be in greater need of
to support the student this year those funds.
even though they continue to be
ineligible? Q. What changes have you
made this year?
A. No. Payments from the
Discretionary Fund should not be A. Please see paragraphs 3-4
given to ineligible students, even for details of the main changes for
where previous payments were 2012-13.
made as a result of a mistake or
misunderstanding. Q. Can institutions use the
Discretionary Fund to meet the
Q. Can the Discretionary cost of outstanding
Fund be used to provide support accommodation fees from
for prisoners studying a course students who have withdrawn?
A. No. This is an internal
A. No. Prisoners are only matter for each institution in terms
entitled to tuition fee support. of how they administer applications
for halls of residence. Institutions
Q. Are students who are on a cannot use the fund for backdated
year out (of study), eligible to payments to students who have
apply for assistance from the already left.
Q. Is a student undertaking a
A. No. There is a requirement Distance Learning course – with
that students still have to be no requirement to attend the
registered as an actual student and Institution at any time – eligible
should be attending a course. For to apply for help from the
students who have temporarily Discretionary Fund?
suspended their studies through
illness, or who may be A. Yes. As long as the
experiencing difficulty in finding a applicant meets the residence
placement in industry as an criteria which apply to student
essential part of their course, loans, then they can apply.
institutions should first check
Q Can Discretionary Funds
be used to assist students who
are attending Access courses?
A If attendance on the Access
course is required by the institution
to enable the student to progress to
a Full or Part-time course, then
Discretionary Funds can be used if
required but it is at the discretion of
the Institution as to what support is
Q Can we transfer funds
from our college joint FE/HE
Childcare Fund into the HE
A No. Since the funding for HE
childcare in the college sector had
been transferred from SAAS to the
SFC, and subsequently allocated
by the SFC to the colleges, it will
not be possible to transfer funds
from the joint childcare pool of
funds in colleges to the HE
Discretionary Funds. However,
colleges will be allowed to transfer
funds from the joint childcare fund
into the FE Discretionary Funds to
be used for FE students.
ALLOCATIONS PROCESS Information Annexes that are
Q&A [top] returned to SAAS by 31 October.
SAAS will then reallocate to those
institutions who have requested
Q. What are the allocations of supplementary allocation of funds..
HE discretionary funds based
A. The allocations are based
on statistical information provided
by SAAS, HESA and FES for
academic year 2010-11, the latest
for which complete information is
Q. Why are they not based on
A. As student numbers vary
from year to year it is not
appropriate to base one year’s
allocations on the previous years
Q. Can I move money from
my FE funds to my HE ones?
A. No. Institutions cannot at
present move money between FE
discretionary and HE discretionary
funds. We are currently discussing
this possibility for future years.
Q. We have money left over
from last year – what can we do
A. Return to SAAS for
reallocation as part of the in-year
Institution can no longer carry
forward 10% of their previous
Q. What should we do if we
expect to have excess funding in
a given year?
A. Return the excess funding to
SAAS with the Management
Part-Time Higher Education
Q & A [top] Q How are the HE
Discretionary Funds, that had
previously been ring-fenced for
Q What is the improved part-time students and are now
support for part-time students? included in the general fund,
A New support for HE part- A The allocation of the funds is
time students was introduced from based on the full-time equivalent
autumn enrolment 2008. As part of number of part-time students at
this new support there was an each institution. This gives a higher
increase in the amount of funding weighting to students who are
allocated to institutions’ HE studying a greater percentage of a
discretionary funds. course because such students will
have a higher full-time equivalent.
Q What extra funding is For example a student studying
available for institutions’ 50% of a full-time course will have
Discretionary Funds for part- a higher full-time equivalent value
time students? than a student studying 30%. This
A There will be no extra is the same allocation process as
funding for part-time students. that used for the Undergraduate
However, the funding that had Discretionary Fund.
previously been ring-fenced for
part-time students since 2008 has, Q Are the priority groups for
since 2010/11, been included in the this funding the same as for the
general discretionary funds and previously ring-fenced part-time
part-time students will be a priority Higher Education Discretionary
group when deciding who to help Funds?
from that fund. Part-time students A Yes, the priority groups for
had always been eligible to access this funding will be: students who
the general discretionary fund previously qualified for the £500
when the part-time funds were loan, lone parents, students who
exhausted but some institutions qualify for Fee Waiver, and
may have been reluctant to use students receiving state benefits.
‘full-time’ funds for part-time
students. In amalgamating both
funds it’s hoped that part-time Q Are postgraduate students
students will be given the same eligible to apply for this funding?
opportunities as full-time students A For academic year 2012-13,
to benefit from the funds. Colleges a tuition fee loan will be available to
and universities will be able to eligible learners studying eligible
provide more flexible support for part-time taught postgraduate
part-time students and can use the courses at SCQF level 11. These
general discretionary funds to help part-time postgraduate students
them with study costs, travel costs can apply to the Postgraduate
and childcare costs, based on Discretionary Fund if in financial
individual need. hardship.