Helping students during the cost of living crisis

Published on 14 July 2023

Rising living costs, the energy crisis and the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic have caused our student community significant challenges in recent years and this continues today.

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“When I read the email from Student Funding notifying me of the money awarded to me, I just wanted to cry” shared Sarah*, one of our students who was helped by the University’s Financial Aid Fund. “I get goosebumps when I think that only three weeks ago, I was practically homeless and how overwhelmed and worried I felt.”

The University anticipates that more of our students than ever before will need financial assistance. Therefore, it is paramount that we can provide vital financial support and a safeguard for students when they need it most.

Ann Gordon, Deputy Student Funding Officer within the Student Services Directorate explained how the University provides support. “As a University, we have a duty of care to our students who are facing increasing pressure throughout their studies.

“Through no fault of their own, many of our students need financial assistance, including students from underrepresented backgrounds who often have no other means of support, as well as many international students whose funds are simply not stretching as they expected due to increased living costs.”

A challenging start

“On my first night in Scotland, my family and I were affected by the fire in the New County Hotel in Perth. We lost everything and did not have access to food, clothes, medicine and other basic amenities so we had to buy all of these things again.

“We were unable to access the funding we needed to recover from this event. Student Services helped my family and me get back on our feet by providing us financial support, some of which we used to pay the first two months of rent on a new property and the electricity and gas bills. The rest will be used to buy groceries and travel to and from Dundee for classes.

My family and I are incredibly grateful for this help and support during such a difficult time.”

Anna*, recipient of Financial Aid funding

“I truly cannot thank the Student Funding and Nursing team enough. Thank you very much and I am delighted to be able to pay off my debts and support myself to be able to continue my studies. ”

Stewart, recipient of Financial Aid funding

The cost-of-living crisis is deeply affecting students. It is estimated that a student studying at Dundee spends £775-£975 each month on living expenses, £250 of which is for groceries alone. This increase is the result of cost inflation and the exponential rise in prices of certain grocery items. For example, since 2021, milk and bread prices have increased by 50% and 21% respectively.

“The Student Funding Unit administers discretionary funds, which can provide financial assistance to help students with their essential living expenses such as rent, utility bills, access to broadband, and food,” Ann explained. “We also offer budgeting sessions to help students keep track of their spending, raise awareness of what they spend their money on, and maximise their income for their benefit.

“In November 2022, the University committed an extra £100,000 to student funding to support international students facing financial difficulties,” Ann continued. “The University is also working with Dundee University Students’ Association on the newly established Pantry and Breakfast Club, which offer students free non-perishable foodstuffs and toiletries as well as free breakfast in warm surroundings.”

The University is also prioritising the Student Financial Aid Fund in its fundraising efforts. “Many of our alumni, staff and friends generously support fundraising for our Student Financial Aid Fund,” said Lizzi Nicoll, Head of Development and Alumni Relations.

“We are incredibly grateful to those who made a gift during our Giving Tuesday appeal and our two most recent telephone campaigns,” Lizzi continued. “The generosity and collective passion for helping future generations of students at Dundee has enabled Student Services to make more emergency payments, alleviating student stress and worry.”

*Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

  • 1800 students have used the DUSA Pantry since December 2022.

  • £9,950 in Tesco vouchers have been given to students to help with the rising costs of groceries.

  • £954,000 in discretionary funding awarded since August 2022.

Story category Alumni