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57 per cent of Edinburgh Uni students have skipped meals due to financial struggles

‘I just don’t eat at uni, it’s too pricey’

57 per cent of students at the University of Edinburgh have had to skip meals due to financial difficulties, according to a new poll by The Edinburgh Tab.

These findings follow NUS Scotland’s Cost of Survival paper reporting that 52 per cent of students in Scotland have skipped meals at university due to financial difficulty, and 37 per cent considering dropping out due to financial difficulty.

With over 1,000 responses, the survey conducted by The Edinburgh Tab unearthed stories of constant financial juggling – students recounted various scenarios where they had to choose between buying textbooks or dinner, paying rent or enjoying a meal.

One respondent conveyed a moment of stark realisation when his bank card was declined, forcing him to return his intended purchase – a meal deal: “Card declined on a meal deal, so [I had to] put it back.”

Others described further severe financial distress, with one student explaining how they only had £12 in their bank account, intending to last them two weeks.

“Before my most recent rent payment I had no food and £12 to last me two week.”

Many students cited the high cost of living, including expensive groceries and rent, as a primary reason for their situation. One student said they had to eat only once a day because they couldn’t afford any more: “Currently having to skip two meals a day in order to pay rent, which has brought back past problems with food.”

Financial aid systems, designed to be lifelines, often fail to reach those treading water. Several students pointed out the gaps in the bursary system and the unavailability of hardship funds: “SAAS gave me no funding and uni refused to let me have hardship funding. Hunger.”

Another student’s stark admission was that despite not qualifying for a bursary, they still struggled without additional support from family, painting a grim picture of the support system’s inadequacies.

“I don’t quite qualify for the bursary, but I didn’t receive money from my mom to help with groceries in semester one, so I could only afford dinners every day – so only one meal a day.”

Food affordability on campus was another concern, with several students wishing for more affordable food options, as campus food is “just too pricey.”

“Food on campus is very expensive, and meal prepping is difficult with an intensive degree.”

Behind the numbers are the unseen battles with food insecurity that often go unspoken. A respondent shared their struggle with an eating disorder, exacerbated by financial stress, whilst another admitted substituting meals with sleep to stave off hunger.

“I was poor and deep in my eating disorder.”

“I’d just have sleep for dinner because I didn’t have enough money to buy groceries.”

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: “We are acutely aware of the rises in the cost of living are having on our students and we have responded by enhancing the support available to help those most in need. We are providing emergency supermarket vouchers for students in immediate financial crisis. We’ve made it easier to access hardship funds by streamlining the application process and staff are on hand to guide students through this. We continue to monitor the demand for these funds to ensure that we are ready to respond to the challenges faced by our student community.

“Alongside our hardship fund, we offer a range of other support, including budget management assistance, laptop loans and affordable meal options at University-managed cafés.