Study: Int’l Students in Scotland Almost Twice as Likely to Face Homelessness Than Domestic Ones

United Kingdom Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Apr 25, 2023

Young woman walking in the city center in Edinburgh, United Kingdom

International students in Scotland are almost twice as likely to face homelessness during their studies than domestic students, a survey has found.

The National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland survey collecting responses from 1,281 international students in Scotland has revealed that 21 percent of them have struggled to find housing during their studies. The figure among domestic students is only 12 percent, Erudera.com reports.

“International students struggle more than home students to secure housing because many do not have a UK based guarantor, which is required by most landlords to secure a tenancy,” the NUS report points out.

The organization has called on universities to guarantee students’ access to housing and to expand the eligibility criteria for their hardship funds. It said that international students have often been disallowed to apply for those funds despite having the same financial struggles as domestic ones.

According to the study, more than a fifth of international students have experienced homelessness, and they are also more targeted by housing scammers presenting themselves as landlords and asking students to pay a deposit in advance.

Data show that 49 percent of international students in Scotland have skipped a meal due to financial stress, and 42 percent couldn’t afford to heat their home, so they went without it.

Due to their financial problems, 36 percent of international students also reported an inability to pay their energy bills, 29 percent said they could not afford to pay their rent in full, and another 29 percent even considered withdrawing because of finances.

The survey also found that ten percent of international students in Scotland have used foodbanks.

Commenting on the findings, NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall said that the rates of homelessness among international students are unacceptable and Scotland’s reputation, with a world-class education system, is undermined by the treatment of international students.

“International students are expected to pay extortionate fees but have no support once they arrive in Scotland, facing homelessness and skipping meals just to get by. It is time for the Scottish Government and institutions to act.”

Gomersall added that the Scottish government should use the delegated powers to cap how much the country’s universities can charge students from abroad.

President of Aberdeen University Students’ Association, Vanessa Mabonso Nzolo, said the survey proves there is a misconception that international students are very rich and that due to the hostile environment created by the Home Office, these students have to face a stigma.

She said there are cases when international students, due to financial problems, were forced to live in hostels while studying, and others who had to live in expensive hotels spending their budget for the entire term in several weeks.

Nzolo also mentioned that up to eight international students reportedly shared a one-bedroom Airbnb as they were unable to cover more expenses.

Most Britons have supported the idea to reintroduce maintenance grants for students experiencing financial difficulties. A poll by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) with UPP Foundation found that 64 percent of the UK public support offering these grants; nonetheless, only a few believe extra financial support for students should become a priority.

>> New Foodbank Program at Swansea University Aims to Help Students Amid Cost of Living Crisis

Image by Ross Sneddon | Unsplash

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