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Students in Highlands could have saved £8500 by studying at home

By Calum MacLeod

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Students could have saved money by living at home and studying online.
Students could have saved money by living at home and studying online.

STUDENTS studying in the Highlands and Islands could have saved £8500 this year by staying with their parents, a national study has concluded.

The report from education consultancy website Studee looked at how much students could have saved by opting to have studying at home in a year when universities moved their lectures and tutorials online in a bid to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

The research, conducted by Studee, used data from Save the Student to work out how much students could have saved by staying with their parents and studying from home by adding the cost of rent, bills, transport and insurance together.

With an average monthly cost of £713, this would have saved Highlands and Islands students £8556 over the year.

This was the second highest saving in Scotland, beaten only by students in Edinburgh who would have saved £8692 on average monthly costs of £7871.

Students studying in Scotland could have saved on average £7775 a year, slightly below the UK average of £7871 a month living at home.

Students studying in Aberdeen have the smallest saving among Scotland's university students of £6726.

According to the National Union of Students, 61 per cent of students work part-time to support themselves financially whilst studying. Studee adds that due to past and current restrictions, it is likely many students will be out of work as 16 to 25-year-olds are twice as likely to have lost their jobs compared to older workers, putting them under even more financial pressure with three in four students concerned about how they will pay their rent.

Laura Rettie, vice president of global communications at Studee, said: “Students have had an incredibly difficult year, and it's easy to understand why they feel so aggrieved – they’ve been told to come to campus, only to be kept in quarantine and taught online. They could have easily studied at home without spending additional money on top of tuition fees to live close to or on campus.

“It will be interesting to see how many students actually decide to return to campus rather than staying at home after Christmas – I wouldn’t blame them if they opted for the cheaper option of staying with mum and dad.

"It’s crucial universities take this additional cost for students into account when the decision is made to move to fully online lectures. Equally, this is a really difficult time for universities who rely on the income from students to stay afloat and the balancing act is becoming increasingly precarious.”

However, the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), the only university wholly based in the region, cautioned that the results were related to students of more traditional universities in urban areas and did not take into account the unique context of the UHI and those who choose to study in the Highlands and Islands.

A UHI spokeswoman said: “Across the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership, over 90 per cent of our students study from home already. We cover the largest geographical area of any campus-based university or college in the UK and have the largest student population in Scotland, with around 40,000 students studying with us each year. We serve our dispersed communities as both their local college and university from our network of campuses and learning centres across the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire.

"Our blended learning approach combines video conferencing, creative approaches to learning and teaching online, real time support from lecturers and local staff and some face-to-face teaching. Our staff design learning experiences based on individual student needs, to ensure students have the best experience and can access their learning easily wherever they choose to study.”


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