Students hit hardest by energy price rises can apply for financial support, the Scottish Government has announced.
The Scottish Government says £5m is being distributed to help higher education students in financial hardship with basics like heating and other household costs.
The new funding makes up part of a £37m hardship fund that has been provided by the Scottish Government since June 2021.
The higher and further education minister, Jamie Hepburn, has written to college and university principals in a bid to encourage students in need to apply for the funding.
Under the plans, a £350 loan uplift in higher education will be introduced for 2022-23, allowing disadvantaged students to access £8100 per year through bursary and loan payments.
The plans will also see the introduction of a new 12 monthly payment option for students receiving the Care Experienced Bursary in order to ensure support is also available over the summer months
Hepburn said: “Many students are facing higher energy bills and increased financial hardship as a result of the cost of living crisis.
“I have written to university and college principals asking them to ensure that discretionary funds remain accessible for students most in need and that in distributing funds, they should take account of the impact rising energy prices will be having on students, particularly those in private rented accommodation.
“I have also asked them to add students facing rising energy bills to the priority groups so they can access the funds. Students can also apply for support through the Fuel Insecurity Fund, which is distributed through third sector organisations.”
Research by NUS Scotland found around two-thirds of students have experienced mental ill-health as a result of financial pressures and a third have considered dropping out of their course due to finances
And opposition parties say the Scottish Government’s funding package for students does not go far enough.
Labour’s shadow education minister Martin Whitfield said: ‘’The situation for Scottish students is truly appalling. ‘The fact that over one in three students are considering dropping out of university should set alarm bells ringing in the corridors of Bute House.
‘’This is Scotland’s next generation and this Scottish Government can’t continue let them down. Students in Scotland are being failed by a broken system which is leaving many without enough money to live.
“The Scottish Government could have taken action such as the implementation of a real living wage but failed to do so. It is no wonder students are dependent on foodbanks and are being forced work excessive hours on top of their coursework.
‘’The education secretary should come to Parliament and outline a fresh package of student support that will alleviate the tough situation students are going through.”