University of Edinburgh students talk about how Covid-19 has affected them.
As a beneficiary of both the Access Edinburgh Scholarship and the Student Hardship Fund, I wanted to share my story this #GivingTuesday so that alumni know what their support means.
I am a second year law student from Coatbridge, near Glasgow. I’m one of just a handful of my year group to go on to Further or Higher Education, and life could be very different right now.
I’m definitely the unusual one. There weren’t a lot of people from my school that went to university or college. A lot of them just didn't know what to do with themselves, so they're just sort of, at a standstill.
Growing up in a single parent household with three younger siblings, I learned to look after not just myself, but also my sister and brothers, balancing my studies with a happy but hectic home life.
I was inspired to move to Edinburgh for university to experience life in a different city, to be more independent and to seize any opportunity that came my way.
But the cost of studying in one of the UK’s most expensive cities hit home early.
I live in the centre of Edinburgh so we're right on the Bridges, just across from Old College. Our rent’s expensive, and my first year accommodation was too. You definitely need to take it all into consideration.
I’m so glad to receive the Access Edinburgh Scholarship. Like all Edinburgh undergraduates coming from lower-income families in the UK, I was eligible for an award under the scheme which transformed the way my student finances looked:
I got a job up here to help with expenses. I always had a job back home, and I worked in a bar when I first moved to the city. Some days I wouldn't finish until 4 in the morning and then I would have a lecture at 9. That was taking its toll on me and I couldn’t keep it up.
It was only because of the scholarships and bursaries that I was able to give up my job and focus on studying.
Then the pandemic hit and life changed.
Life has obviously been different. I was used to quite a high paced city. When I first came to Edinburgh there were students everywhere - international students, students from Scotland. Now it’s very quiet.
I applied for additional help from the Covid-19 Hardship Fund when it became apparent that circumstances were changing rapidly and beyond my control:
My exams were going on until May 27th. I stayed in Edinburgh to do them because I didn’t want to go home – it was a busy environment under lockdown and I just wanted peace and quiet. I knew I couldn't have a job at the same time as my exams, because I tried that in first semester and it was just too difficult.
So I applied for the hardship fund and I received £500. That helped tide me by significantly until I got a job over the summer. It was just for basic essentials like food, toiletries, and stuff like that. Just to put me by, and help me get back home. I made it last for months.
It was a massive shock to me when I first came to University. Like my law books for instance. I think they were £200 for three books, just for the first semester. And then you have to buy separate books for second semester and because the law is always changing it's not as if you can reuse them - you've always got to buy the up-to-date versions.
My mum is a single parent, she’s already got three other children to look after. I’m old enough to look after myself, so I don't really like asking my family for things if I can find a way to do it myself.
I use it towards my accommodation, or for instance I bought some law books with it. In first year I also bought a laptop.
It relieved that burden. Quite a lot actually.
It’s been a strange environment and a lot tougher. The financial pressure is a big element for us as well. My flatmates for instance, a lot of them lost their jobs due to Covid, because their employers can’t afford to keep them on.
It's been hard to adjust, but we're getting there.
It really helped me so much.
I got a job over the summer. But I’ve been fortunate enough not to need to work more hours because of my scholarship, and because I’ve saved up.
I want to say thank you. I’d want them to know that if it wasn't for the scholarship, then I don't really think I would have been able to come to Edinburgh to study law in the first place.
I would have just had to stay at home and probably would have gone to a different university. If I was studying at home I don't think I would have been as successful in the degree as I have been so far.
It really would have been a make or break situation. Even though that sounds quite extreme, when I evaluate the whole term, that's the way I view it.