Thank you for your correspondence about the impact of transport costs on students.
Students are facing significant financial pressures as the cost of living rises, and for many this situation is impacting on their mental wellbeing too. Last year a survey by NUS found that the most common reasons for dropping out of university were student mental health and money worries, while a recent survey by the Higher Education Policy Institute found that the number of students in paid employment has risen by 10% in one year. This highlights the impact that growing financial pressures are having on students. Labour believe more must be done to mitigate the impact of the cost of living on students and create a more positive environment for student wellbeing.
Scottish Labour is committed to tackling the cost of living crisis and the rising transport costs students are facing. In our cost of living plan we called for the Scottish Government to make public transport more affordable by ruling out an inflation-based fare rise, and instead commit to freezing rail fares for the whole of 2023. We also called for the Scottish government to provide local authorities with the resources to implement a cap on bus fares.
The decision by the SNP Government earlier this month to hike rail fares will place additional pressure on the budgets of those who are already struggling to make ends meet. Our railways are already overpriced and unreliable, and it is unacceptable that the government are pricing more people out of using public transport.
No student should be prohibited from accessing their education because of the cost of public transport, and neither should they have to choose between feeding themselves or attending university. Scottish Labour will continue to press the government on this issue and support action to improve the conditions of students across Scotland.