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Students ‘pushed into poverty’ due to lack of financial support in Scotland

A third of students have considered dropping out due to financial hardship as they are ‘pushed into poverty’ to complete their education, a shock report has revealed.

A survey by the National Union of Students (NUS) found that 12% of all students have been homeless since the start of their studies, while 8% said they had to rely on food banks for s ‘get out.

Almost two-thirds (64%) said they had suffered from mental health problems due to financial pressures.

NUS wants the Scottish Government to step up its commitment to bring student support up to real living wage levels.

Matt Crilly, chairman of NUS Scotland, said: “Students in Scotland are being let down by a broken system that leaves many without enough money to live on.

“With more than a third of students at risk of dropping out, real action is needed – not words.

“More than four years ago, the Student Support Review recommended that student support should be a real living wage.

“This Scottish Government has failed to put this recommendation into action and now students are also facing anti-inflationary increases to our rents and a spike in the cost of living.

“It’s no wonder students are reliant on food banks, working excessive hours on top of their classes, experiencing homelessness at an alarming rate, and going deeper into debt.”

The survey of over 3,500 students found that a quarter of them had been unable to pay their rent in full on one or more occasions and more than half (56%) said that it was difficult to cope financially during the summer.

More than two-thirds (68%) of students who work do so more than 10 hours a week to make ends meet.

Nearly one in three students (31%) said they had resorted to business debt such as credit cards, Klarna or payday loans, a quarter relying on bank overdrafts, while 35% considered dropping out their courses due to financial difficulties.

Vulnerable and disadvantaged students were the most affected, with one in three separated students saying they had experienced homelessness, while 15% of all students with family responsibilities said they depended on food banks.

The report said: “The results of this survey reveal a prevailing narrative that students across Scotland are being pushed into poverty to complete their education, and the system is clearly failing them.

Scottish Labor education spokesman Martin Whitfield said: ‘The Education Secretary should come to parliament and present a new student support scheme which will alleviate the difficult situation students are going through.’

The Scottish Government said this week more than £5million had been distributed to help students in financial difficulty with basics like heating and other household costs as part of a £37million grant of pounds sterling supplied since June 2021.

Higher Education Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Many students are facing higher energy bills and increased financial hardship due to the cost of living crisis.

“I have written to heads of universities and colleges asking them to ensure that discretionary funds remain accessible to the most needy students and that in distributing the funds they should take into account the impact that the rising energy prices will have on students, especially those in private rental accommodation.”

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