Following new figures showing over a third of students (37%) had considered dropping out for financial reasons, NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall has called on the candidates for SNP Leader and First Minister to commit to delivering on SNP promises to increase student support.
In an open letter to Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, Ellie Gomersall has highlighted new figures from NUS Scotland’s Cost of Survival research that show that student poverty is having a direct impact on access to education:
- 21% said their missed out on attending a class or lecture and a further 7% said they missed a placement because of the cost of travel
- 9% said they’d missed an online class because they couldn’t afford data
- 37% of students have considered dropping out because of their finances, with not having enough money through student support the top reason for considering leaving their studies.
Commenting, NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall said:
“While SNP members are choosing a new leader, Scotland’s 560,000 students will be watching on to see if their new First Minister will fight for them.
“Our Cost of Survival report found that students are skipping classes, lectures and placements because of the cost of travel or data. It’s no wonder more than a third have considered dropping out.
“While tuition may be fee free for Scottish students, accessing it is clearly far from free.
“Whoever is elected First Minister, they must deliver on their promise to increase student support to the real Living Wage – a failure to act now risks a flight of existing students from our colleges and universities.”
The full text of the open letter to the SNP Leader candidates is below:
Dear Humza, Kate and Ash,
As you travel the country right now to speak to SNP members at hustings, I’m sure quite a few of the people in the room will be students.
Many more will be following the election from home, watching on to see who the next First Minister will be. That’s over 560,000 students looking for a First Minister that’s fighting for them. They’ll be looking for a First Minister that takes student poverty seriously.
We’ve found that 21% of students have missed out on attending a class or lecture because of the cost of travel and a further 7% have missed a placement. Almost 1 in 10 (9%) have missed an online class because of the cost of data. It’s no wonder that 37% have considered dropping out for financial reasons.
While education in Scotland may be tuition fee free for most students, access to education is clearly anything other than free. If we don’t act now, we not only risk missing widening access targets, but we’ll also see a flight of existing students from our colleges and universities.
The good news is, the SNP-Green government has already promised to increase the total package of student support to the level of the real Living Wage.
Yet while Scottish benefits have been increased by inflation, as things stand students in poverty will see no increase in the support they receive this year.
As First Minister, will you act to change this and deliver on your promise to an increase in student support?