Student leaders have launched one last-ditch appeal to politicians across Scotland to reverse proposed cuts to student support – or else face more and more young people out of work.
More than 80,000 emails have been sent to MSPs as part of the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland 'Our Future Our Fight' campaign ahead of tomorrow's decisive budget being delivered in the Scottish Parliament.
Last month the Scottish Government announced plans to cut support funding within the further education sector by £11 million from £96m this year to £84m in 2012-13.
The move has prompted a wave of criticism from student representatives across Scotland amid claims the SNP had renegaded on a manifesto promise to protect the student support budget throughout the remainder of this term at Holyrood.
On the eve of the Scottish Budget vote, Robin Parker, NUS Scotland president, labelled the online campaign as an "unbelievable achievement".
He said: "With college bursary budgets already overstretched this year, the Scottish Government is planning to spend £11m less on support for the poorest students next year. That's money that ensures students can afford to stay in education, rather than add to the already too high numbers of youth in the dole queue.
"If we are to avoid increasing the ranks of youth unemployment, the SNP, and the whole of Parliament, must now listen to their voters. They must use the Budget vote to reverse this £11m cut to financial for the poorest students, and ensure colleges have sufficient funding to protect the number and quality of college places."
A Scottish government spokesman added: "The cabinet secretary has made clear that funding for 2012-13 is based on published Scottish Funding Council baselines for this year.
"Delivering on our commitments ensures that colleges will continue to play a full part in supporting economic growth, while providing substantial protection to the living and study costs of students.
"We are providing the best deal we can for colleges at a time when we are having to reduce many other budgets as a result of the swingeing cut the UK government is making to Scotland's block grant."