New research from NUS Scotland has shown that over half of students have gone without a meal because they could not afford to eat. The National Union of Students Scotland (NUS Scotland) have published their latest Cost of Survival report, covering issues including homelessness, housing, student finances, and mental health and well-being.
Based on an online survey conducted in November 2022 (which consulted 5,306 college and university students) NUS researchers found that 52% of students were forced to skip a meal because of a lack of money. Furthermore, they found that the percentage of students who use a food bank has increased from 8% to 11% between January and November 2022.
The report states that the percentage of students who have considered dropping out for financial reasons has increased from 36% to 37% since January 2022. While students identified money shortage in their loan or bursary as the most common reason (34%), worry over the rising cost-of-living was cited by over 1 in 4 considering dropping out (29%), the report concludes. Forty-five percent of students surveyed have gone without heating, a third (35%) have been unable to pay their rent in full, and 12% of students had experienced homelessness (10%) or were homeless (2%) at the time of the survey. No increase in undergraduate student support and the further education bursary has been announced for next year.
NUS Scotland Campaigns and Public Affairs Coordinator, Daisy Slate, shares that students from widening-access backgrounds, including estranged, disabled, and care-experienced students, as well as students who are carers and come from low-income households, were recognized as especially vulnerable to the effects of the cost-of-living crisis by the report.
NUS Scotland President, Ellie Gomersall stated that: “Our Cost-of-Survival report reveals how broken Scotland’s education system really is. These figures should be deeply troubling for the Scottish Government.
“Further and higher education is free in Scotland because we want our education system to be accessible to all, but if students cannot afford to live whilst accessing that free education, we have failed to make it so. Students are already missing classes and even considering dropping out because they cannot afford to learn.
“The Scottish Government needs to develop bespoke solutions for students that include increased grants and bursaries, rent controls on student housing, and half-price bus and rail fares for all students.”