£750,000 to assist with more welfare advice on campuses
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.
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.”
Shona Struthers, Chief Executive of Colleges Scotland, said:
“This is welcome news as we know the importance of students’ associations in providing peer support in colleges. This new money will allow our students’ associations to increase support for learners at a time when the pandemic has exacerbated mental health and wellbeing issues for many, building on the services and support already available to students in colleges.”
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.”
Discussions are also ongoing between the Government, universities and other stakeholders, regarding the final arrangements being made for the safe restart of studies for undergraduates for Semester 2 in the new year.
There are 33 Student Associations across Scotland’s colleges and universities.
On 22 September the Scottish Government announced a further £3.645 million for 2020/21 as part of its ongoing 2018 Programme for Government commitment to provide more than 80 additional counsellors in Further and Higher Education over four years. Good progress has been made by institutions on putting these counsellors in place. The Scottish Government has also agreed additional financial support for Think Positive, NUS Scotland’s student mental health project.
On 6 November the Scottish Government announced an additional £1.32 million to help students across Scotland access more support to help them deal with the mental health impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This will allow support staff to carry out more frequent checks to identify potential mental health issues, as well as wider welfare concerns, such as access to food deliveries and other necessities, increasing the number of drop-in chats for students, which will offer counselling on a digital platform and enable staff to direct students to the appropriate services, including referring them to a clinician, if appropriate.