Liam Burns the President of the National Union of Students Scotland welcomed the news saying:
"For years, we've been calling for student hardship to be prioritised over graduate debt, getting money into students' pockets when they need it most."
However, he did also caution adding:
"But we still have a long way to go. Even with this money, students will still be living below the poverty line, and we know levels of credit card borrowing and other commercial debt have increased to unprecedented levels."
As I blogged earlier this year there is still a high student reliance on commercial debt. While an extra £442 per year interest free from the Student Loan Company it only goes part of the way to pulling some students out of poverty. Ms Hyslop ignored calls for a comprehensive review on student funding by Sir Andrew Cubie, whose report 10 years ago led to the scrapping of tuition fees in Scotland. The SNP entered Government promising students that they would 'drop the debt' Deputy Conservative leader Murdo Fraser points out that to fulfill that pledge totally the current expenditure required is actually £2bn rather than a £30m drop in the ocean.
Margaret Smith the Lib Dem education spokeswomen added:
"It has taken hard work by the opposition parties and NUS Scotland to drag the SNP kicking and screaming into the best deal for Scotland’s students. Today's decision absolutely vindicates our refusal simply to go along with the government's options and campaign instead for a better option that puts more money into students’ pockets.
"The Education Secretary promised to replace loans with grants, but today's statement is clear. The SNP has abandoned this key election promise."
So maybe this is one small step for the SNP, but we're still awaiting the giant leap for student debt.