ONE of the country’s leading universities has begun targeting its alumni to help support current students struggling with day-to-day living costs.
In a new marketing campaign, Edinburgh University admits the “student loan doesn’t cover the cost of being a student”.
A video clip sent to former students compares living costs from the 1970s, 80s and 90s with the costs incurred by those now at the university.
It compares the cost of everything from books to a pint in the student union bar before asking former students to make a donation to its bursary fund.
According to the video clip, the average monthly student rent rose from £18 in 1965 to £80 in 1977 and now stands at £320. While a pint in the student bar would have cost 25p in 1973, it now costs around £3.
Using the example of a fictional medical student called “Sarah”, who begins the month with a budget of £361.25 and ends it £44.15 in debt, the new fundraising campaign has already brought in donations from as far afield as Cambodia.
A spokesman for the university said: “Sarah was created through innovative use of social media to connect with alumni and tap into their memories of their times at Edinburgh.
“The contrast between their experiences and those of students today can be significant, but we know our alumni feel lucky to have had an Edinburgh education and they want today’s students – tomorrow’s business leaders, teachers, doctors and artists – to experience that, in spite of living in a very difficult financial climate.
“This has obviously struck a chord – our first donation came from a student and we have received a donation from as far away as Cambodia in the few hours the campaign has been live.
“We’re hoping people will share it far and wide so that as many people as possible meet Sarah.”
Scots and those from elsewhere in the EU are exempt from tuition fees, but students from the rest of the UK pay £9,000 a year, making a degree from Edinburgh one of the most expensive in Britain.
Robin Parker, president of the National Union of Students in Scotland, said: “Anything that boosts students’ income, particularly those from the poorest backgrounds, is a good thing. Any additional funding like this that universities can provide is very welcome indeed.”
A Scottish Government spokesman added: “From 2013, Scottish students studying in Scotland will benefit from the best support package available in the UK with enhanced support and free tuition.
“This will include an annual minimum income of £7,250 for students with a family income of less than £17,000.
“All students, irrespective of circumstances, will also be eligible for a student loan of £4,500 a year.”