Hard-up students make 53,000 applications for financial help

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There have been 53,327 applications for financial support from students since 2012/13.

Tens of thousands of students have asked for hardship cash from their universities in the last five years, official figures show.

The Liberal Democrats blamed SNP cuts to bursaries and grants for the number of bids for financial assistance.

At Abertay, Dundee and St Andrews universities there were 8,873 applications for support between 2012/13 and 2016/17. Nationally the figure was 53,327.

Tavish Scott, the Lib Dems MSP, said: “The SNP were elected on a clear commitment to replace loans with grants and to ‘dump the debt’.

“On the SNP’s watch’s student debt has instead soared and bursaries and grants have been reduced.

“Fewer students from poorer backgrounds are getting help and those that do are receiving much less, despite inflation and accommodation costs rising.

“This is a desperate record. This new information shows the problems that these cut backs have caused and repairing them should be a priority for the SNP Government.”

A Dundee University spokeswoman said they hand out “discretionary funding to students who seek financial assistance”.

“This covers general hardship funds, childcare and support for undergraduate and postgraduate students. We also provide advice, direct students to other external grants and bursaries they may be eligible for, and regularly run workshops and drop in sessions,” the spokesman added.

“Any students in need of financial assistance can go to https://www.dundee.ac.uk/student-services/student-funding.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said they are looking at what more they can do to support students following a major review.

“This government is investing a record amount in student support and our action to help students who need additional financial assistance the most has resulted in thousands more qualifying for a bursary or increased bursary funding,” the spokeswoman said.

“Furthermore, our commitment to free tuition means that, unlike elsewhere in the UK, Scottish students studying in Scotland do not incur additional debt of up to £27,000 and average student loan debt here is the lowest in these islands.”