New funding of £750,000 has been announced by the Scottish Government and will help the NUS Scotland and more than 30 student associations to provide vital welfare support for students in colleges and universities.
The money will help build online student communities, increase membership engagement and develop public health and wellbeing messaging.
It will also help further provide support for students – in particular international students – who will be remaining in accommodation or who are experiencing isolation over the winter break and build the capacity of college associations.
NUS Scotland and student associations will work closely with their institutions to ensure these activities complement those funded by the additional £1.32 million in this financial year for student mental health support announced by the First Minister last month.
Sandra White MSP, who represents all of Glasgow’s Universities and Scotland’s largest college said:
“This funding is warmly welcomed and will assist in providing essential services on campus. Everyone in our society has endured the hardest year on memory and our students are no different.
“Many students are young people, living away from their family home, and support system, for the first time. In usual years they would be able to form solid foundations of friendship and support amongst other students but, due to the restrictions in place for much of this year, that has simply not been possible for a great many young people.
“The fact this funding will assist the Student Support Services on our campus’ better care for our students is fantastic news and the Scottish Government should be commended for listening to the needs of the sector.”
Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said:
“Student associations are embedded into the student experience and are well placed to help address student welfare concerns. Across Scotland many students are right now looking for advice, guidance and support from external organisations, including their student associations and unions, who are uniquely placed to support them.
“We recognise many institutions have done a great job stepping up their own support to students, however many new students have still not yet developed a relationship with their institution and many, in particular from overseas, may be remaining in accommodation over the winter break.”
“Many associations are already planning how best to support students’ wellbeing during the holiday – so this money should provide immediate valuable resources to help them engage directly with them in these difficult times.”
Matt Crilly NUS Scotland President said:
“NUS Scotland is delighted the Scottish Government has answered our call for financial support for Scotland’s student associations. The work they carry out for our students is invaluable – especially in the current climate.
“Student associations don’t just put on great social events and activities, they are a lifeline for many students, providing practical support for those in isolation, advice for those facing hardship, emotional support for those struggling with their mental health, and much more.
“Many student associations do not qualify for the business support available that is on offer – that’s why it is so important that the Scottish Government has made this funding available.”