The money struggles facing students in Scotland have been laid bare by figures showing hundreds are dropping out of university for financial reasons every year.
Nearly 1,700 students across the country have had to abandon their studies since 2011 because of cash problems, according to figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws by The Courier. And more than 40,000 students resorted to applying for hardship funds over the same time period.
NUS Scotland said each hard-up student having to pack in their studies is a tragedy for them and the wider Scottish economy.
Vonnie Sandlan, Scotland’s NUS president, said more grant support is needed throughout the year to ensure students can stay the course.
The Courier asked the country’s 15 universities how many students had left because of financial difficulties and how many had been identified as having money problems.
A Dundee University spokesman said they believe “passionately” that financial circumstances should not be a “barrier to students fulfilling their potential”.
“We have been rated number one in Scotland for student experience in each of the past six years and this is in no small part down to the support we provide students across the whole range of issues they may face, including finance,” he added.
A spokesman for Abertay University said: “Helping students to overcome any financial difficulties they might be facing is a fundamental part of the support we provide and there are several support mechanisms in place to achieve this.
“There’s a wide range of information and advice available for students. General guidance on managing budgets and staying on top of spending is available online and we have trained advisers who work with individual students to help them deal with debt and with the stress caused by money worries.”
Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray said: “The SNP promised students they would end loans and pay off debt. Instead they have slashed the budget for bursaries and grants by £40 million and student debt has soared.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our commitment to free tuition, the prospect of the lowest average debt and the best graduate prospects in the UK saw a record number of Scots accepted to study at Scottish universities last year.
“In contrast to the UK Government, who are abolishing maintenance grants for new students in England entirely from 2016-17, we increased the grant element of our package for the poorest students by £125 in 2015-16.
“Our minimum income guarantee for undergraduate students from the poorest households living at home is £7,625 per year the highest package of support in the UK.”