Student grants: media coverage 5 -12 June
The parliamentary debate on 5 June attracted some attention to the issue of grant cuts. Pieces specifically mentioning that grants are due to fall ran in The Scotsman, The Times (Scottish edition), The Daily Record and The Daily Express (can’t find a link for the last one). This is the most coverage the issue has yet had, but it did not provoke substantial comment and the story has died down again quickly.
Among heavy-weight Scottish-based media organisations the tradition of covering stories about tuition fees, but not considering student grants as news- or comment- worthy, was continued by The Herald, STV and the BBC. All of these have regularly covered tuition fee stories but chose not to carry a story about the debate. Neither the BBC or STV appear to have run a story or opinion piece on the grant reductions at any point since last August (grateful however for any correction to that, in case my search has missed anything relevant). The only exception to this appears to be coverage of the debate on the BBC Democracy Live channel.
Non-traditional internet news sites are providing an increasingly important source of information on Scottish politics and their coverage of this issue is also therefore potentially interesting. Of two which are referred to relatively often in internet forums as alternative sources of news on Scottish affairs: Newnset carried a piece quoting one speaker in the debate at length but without giving the immediate context for the speech or making reference to grants; and Wings Over Scotland did not cover the debate. The Scottish Times included a piece picking up coverage of my piece in The Scotsman which included a direct reference to reductions in grant.
Fees continued to attract comment. On 10 June, the Scotsman ran an editorial calling for the role of tuition fee policy in widening access to be debated again. The Herald ran a piece about comments by the Chair of the UK Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, noting: “The commission chairman noted that in Scotland the decision not to impose tuition fees had helped remove one barrier to higher education participation – fear of debt”.