NUS Scotland calls on new First Minister to support students

NUS Scotland calls on new First Minister to support students

NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall challenges John Swinney to reverse college cuts and invest in education


Today following the Scottish Parliament’s confirmation of John Swinney as First Minister, NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall wrote to him on behalf of Scotland’s student movement calling on him to take three key actions to demonstrate his government’s commitment to supporting students:

  • Reverse £60m cuts to college funding, invest in education and end strikes.
  • Ensure that rent controls legislation brings prices down and applies to all students.
  • Permanently scrap peak rail fares after the end of the trial period in June.

The letter expresses NUS’ support for the Scottish Government’s previously stated goal of reducing poverty and inequality but calls upon Mr Swinney to demonstrate real commitment to this by addressing the crisis facing Scotland’s colleges.

Ms Gomersall points out that colleges disproportionately serve Scotland’s most disadvantaged and working-class communities but are struggling because of chronic underfunding, including cash funding cuts of £60m in this year’s Scottish budget. The letter also reiterates students’ support for college staff who are currently striking for fair pay, and calls on the government to provide funding to end this dispute.

Further to this, the letter highlights NUS’ research that showed that 12% of students have experienced homelessness, welcomes the publication of the Scottish Government’s Housing Bill in March and urges the new First Minister to continue this work. However, NUS continues to call for the provisions of the bill to be strengthened to ensure that rent controls bring prices down to affordable levels, and that loopholes which exclude Purpose Built Student Accommodation from the regulations are closed so that everyone is protected equally.

Finally, Ms Gomersall raises the issue of the cost of travel in Scotland, which is prohibitively expensive and causes barriers to accessing education – calling on the government to urgently announce the permanent scrapping of peak rail fares, which are currently suspended on a trial period until June.

Commenting, NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall said:

“NUS congratulates John Swinney on his election as leader of the SNP and First Minister, and we hope that he listens to student voices and sets us on a path to a better future.

Scotland’s students are struggling amidst almost countless crises - and our three asks, if fulfilled, would be a first step from the government in demonstrating commitment to supporting us.

This letter should not be taken as a list of demands, but a hand of support, asking the government to work with students to benefit of all Scotland and build a fairer future for all.

The First Minister has said that he wants this to be a ‘new chapter’ for Scotland, and that tackling poverty remains a key priority. His words must be matched with real action. We believe the first page he writes must contain a move away from the government’s chronic underfunding of colleges, and towards affordable student housing and public transport.”


Ellie's letter in full to First Minister John Swinney can be read here.


John Swinney at SNP conference committed to working with NUS Scotland to end student homelessness.

An image of Ellie Gomersall on the left and John Swinney on the right. Between them they are holding a sign which is in purple and has text on it reading 'I'm committed to... ending student homelessness' There is an illustration of homes on it and the NUS Scotland Logo.


Join us in sending a message to Scotland's new First Minister - he must fight for students!

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