Coronavirus information and guidance

Collaboration key to understanding cost of living issues for students

5 October 2021

As incoming students have been preparing to come to University, School of Management staff and students are working on a new project to learn more about the students' cost of living concerns.

Recent research about financial inclusion suggests that accommodation costs, living experiences and finding part-time employment can:

  • affect access and completion of postgraduate degrees (Budd, 2016; Skopek et al. 2020)
  • contribute to stress (Delderfield et al. 2020).

A review of scholarship and financial support across Scottish Universities, funded by the Robertson Trust, found the following:

  • Nearly half of all scholarships reviewed (48%) were provided by universities directly. Philanthropic trusts and foundations were the next largest funders (25%) with scholarships directly from commercial organisations accounting for less than 1%.
  • Of the 177 Scholarships reviewed, only 13 were explicitly assessed on financial need of applicants. Academic merit was key criteria for most scholarships.
  • Information available on scholarships varied across institutions and providers. 46 advertised scholarships contained no specific deadline for application and for many application forms were unavailable.

This research suggests that the process of applying for scholarships is laborious, uncertain and potentially exclusionary.

In the new 'cost of living and postgraduate experience' project, focus groups and surveys will be conducted to explore the cost of living challenges St Andrews students face when pursuing postgraduate education and strategies adopted in response in 2021-22. With support from the University of St Andrews Equality and Diversity Fund, the Resilient Learning Communities Enhancement Theme Fund and the School of Management, the research will inform institutional and sector-wide discussions of widening access and supporting student resilience.

If you would like to learn more about this project, please contact Dr Lucy Wishart at