Debt Solutions Company, Scottish Trust Deed warns half of Scots students can't afford to study

November 07, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
The hardship study Still in the Red asked more than 7000 students in Scotland how they coped financially over the summer holiday period. Nearly 7 of out 10 students struggled to find any work at all this summer and more than half turned to high cost cards to pay their living expenses.

Liam Burns, President of the NUS Scotland, said: "It's shocking that over half of students in Scotland do not have enough money to get them through the summer holidays," said. "In the past students have been able to plug the gap by taking on paid work over the summer but given the recession this crucial source of income has been cut off for many."

A spokesperson from debt solutions company Scottish Trust Deed . "When many of us think about debt, we often mistakenly assume that it is the result of wasting money on consumer goods. Actually, for many a proportion of their debt is made up from educational fees and topping up living expenses while studying on a reduced income."

"Without doubt the worst cases of debt we see are medical students. During the six years of their training they can rack up tens of thousands of pounds of debt paying for fees, books and materials, yet like many they start their careers on a very low level of pay and find it almost impossible to pay it off. It's not unusual for us to have to arrange Protected Trust Deeds for sums in excess of £30,000 for some qualified medical graduates."

The high numbers of students applying for university places combined with a lack of work because of the economic downturn has sparked concerns about the possibility of high numbers of drop-outs. This is turn has put enormous pressure on parents to step in and find the money so their offspring can continue their education. For example, when Michael and Barbara Leeson's son Paul failed to secure a place in the halls of residence of Edinburgh University, they were forced to quickly sell their second car to find the money to secure expensive private accommodation so their son could start his first year.

To rub salt into the wound, the amount of money needed to equip a student for their university education has now risen to £3,500 according to a second study by education technology firm eXpansys. Essential equipment in this case, includes a laptop, smartphone and broadband access.

"Clearly, the lives and associated costs for the average university student have changed dramatically in the last ten years." said Anthony Catterson, eXpansys chief executive.

"In 2010 a laptop and a smartphone capable of accessing the internet and social media are no longer seen as luxuries - they are considered essential student kit; as essential as stationary, pots, pans and bedding.

"The cost of going to university is huge for any student and, for many of them, would simply not be possible without the help of their parents and grandparents, who often fund the essentials before they finally leave home for their new life of independence and study."

English students are able to borrow much greater sums than their Scottish counterparts, a bone of contention in many camps who want all students to be entitled to a set income while they study. NUS Scotland has called for "urgent reform" of the system and believes students in Scotland should be receive a minimum income of around £7,000 a year.

Des McNulty, Labour education spokesman, said: "These figures remind us of the urgent need for action on the fundamental issues facing higher education in Scotland. We believe that the long-term issues surrounding student support need to be considered alongside the issue of university funding in a broad ranging independent review."