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International students in Scotland at higher risk of homelessness

1 in 5 international students likely to experience homelessness, according to a study published Monday by NUS Scotland. 

In the wake of NUS Scotland’s first ever “Celebrating International Students’ Week”, they have reported that international students are almost twice as likely to become homeless than home students. Alongside these shocking statistics, 10% have had to use food banks, 29% have considered leaving their course due to financial difficulty, and 49% have skipped meals. 

International students often struggle to find housing since many landlords require a UK guarantor. NUS Scotland have called for universities to ensure safe and affordable accommodation for international students through the introduction of a Student Housing Guarantee. 

Additionally, they are asking universities to widen the eligibility criteria for their hardship funds. This is because international students are often excluded from applying for them, despite struggling financially at a similar rate to home students, as outlined in NUS Scotland’s Cost of Survival report, published in February. 

“Scotland prides itself on having a world-class education system, but this is being undermined by the way we treat those coming to learn from other countries,” says NUS Scotland President, Ellie Gomersall. “It is time for the Scottish Government and institutions to act.” 

Recent international-EU graduate, and President of Aberdeen University Students’ Association, Vanessa Mabonso Nzolo has added, “International students are less likely to come forward when they are struggling because they are worried about how being homeless may affect their visa. They have very few opportunities with limited working hours and no access to public funds. 

“Universities must guarantee that all of their international students have access to affordable and quality housing and the government needs to reconsider the amount of hours one can legally work on an international student visa. Clearly, in the current economy, 20 hours does not cover the cost-of-living.”

Image courtesy of Pixabay
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