THE National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland has warned that a “broken housing system” may result in another year of student housing shortages throughout Scotland.

The union has expressed particular concern over the shortage of affordable student accommodation in Edinburgh due to the rise in short-term lets, while first-year students at the University of Glasgow have reportedly been told there is no guarantee they will be able to secure accommodation.

According to NUS research published earlier this year, 12% of students have experienced homelessness since the beginning of their studies, while 2% were homeless between November and December 2021, at the time the survey was undertaken.

NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall commented: “There are students across Scotland right now struggling to get accommodation for the year ahead, facing a choice between sofa-surfing or paying sky-high rents.

“Last week we saw another record number of students from the most deprived communities accepted to university but if we don’t get a grip on our broken student housing system, we’re just setting students up to fail.”

NUS Scotland has called for a student housing strategy, coupled with rent controls and a student housing guarantee.

Aditi Jehangir, a spokesperson for the Living Rent tenants union, told the National: “As energy bills and rent skyrockets, students, like all tenants, desperately need rent controls to bring rents down to ensure tenants across Scotland have access to affordable, quality, secure homes.”

Jehangir added that, in addition to national reforms, the Scottish Government need to ensure that towns and cities have the power to take back homes that have been converted into short-term lets, saying: “The government needs to act now or else risk thousands of tenants unable to pay their rent or without a place to live."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that, although it has no direct role in the provision of student accommodation, the Scottish Government is working with partner organisations to deliver a Student Accommodation Strategy for Scotland, informed by the government’s current review of purpose-built student accommodation, which is examining both affordability and supply.

The spokesperson emphasised the Scottish Government’s commitment to a “fairer, more affordable” private rented sector through its New Deal for Tenants, and noted that Edinburgh will soon become Scotland’s first short-term lets control area.

A spokesperson for Universities Scotland also commented: “We agree with NUS Scotland that every student should have a safe and affordable place to live. We will continue to work with NUS Scotland to achieve this and we are fully engaged with the Scottish Government’s review of purpose-built student accommodation.”