NICOLA Sturgeon has warned colleges not to impose financial penalties on students who miss classes to attend tomorrow’s climate strikes.

The First Minister said it would be wrong for students to lose out on bursaries because of strict attendance requirements.

The announcement was welcomed by the National Union of Students.

Ms Sturgeon’s comments were prompted by Green MSP Ross Greer raising the issue of losing financial support at First Minister’s Questions.

He said many college students planning to join millions around the world were concerned that if they took part they could lose “lifeline bursaries” as a result.

He told her: “The National Union of Students has not been able to get a straight answer from the Scottish Government or Colleges Scotland.

“Will the First Minister confirm today that any college student who takes part in tomorrow’s climate strike will not lose their bursary because of it?”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “I am clear that students who are engaged in legitimate, peaceful protest should not lose their bursaries for doing so.

“I am more than happy to ask the Minister for Further Education [Richard Lochhead] to correspond with Ross Greer about the detail of those assurances so that students know that they can take part in the protests without having those concerns.”

Mr Greer said the Scottish Government had initially indicated that any decision on removal of bursary would be at the discretion of individual institutions.

After Ms Sturgeon’s assurance he said: “This climate strike will be a historic moment in our struggle against this unfolding crisis. "Thousands of students in Scotland are preparing to take part and it would be entirely wrong to punish those on the lowest incomes for doing so, by taking away the bursaries they are entitled to.

"I’m glad that the First Minister has finally confirmed her position that no bursaries should be withdrawn. "Colleges across the country should take this on board and support rather than punish students taking part in this important moment of protest


NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe added: “We are delighted to have secured this commitment from the First Minister that no student in Scotland will lose bursary or student support as a result of participating in the climate action strikes.

"The challenges we face in this era of climate catastrophe require the full involvement of our student movement. We appreciate that this has been recognised by the Scottish Government and that students can take part in protests without fear of financial penalties.”