Dylan’s family’s current bank balance will only cover their phone bill for the next month

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A student has been left with just £62 in their bank account after their dad lost his job during the Covid pandemic and bursaries suspended.

Dylan Mac Dodha, who identifies as they/them, has struggled to find casual employment to fit around their studies and is now facing financial turmoil.

The 19-year-old's dad was made redundant from his maintenance job during the pandemic after 10 years with a company and suddenly forced onto Universal Credit, reports the Daily Record.

Dylan, who is a student at Edinburgh Napier University, had been using their payments from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) to support their family.

But bursaries are not paid out during the university summer breaks leaving Dylan with £62 to live on and the family's current bank balance will only cover their phone bill for the next month.

Dylan's dad was made redundant and forced onto Universal Credit
(Image: Andy Rain/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)

Dylan told the Daily Record: "I have never felt so low in my life.

"Why the Scottish Government thought it was a good idea not to extend bursaries during the summer is beyond me.

"SAAS payments have been my main form of income for most of the year because I've struggled to get a part time job during the pandemic.

"I've just managed to get a job, but it's a zero-hour contract, so it doesn't really help my situation that much.

They continued: "My dad was laid off in January after working there for around a decade and had to apply for Universal Credit because we had no income – other than the income I was getting from SAAS, with the last payment in May.

"Universal Credit is all the family has until I start my job next week. Even with that, the type of contract I have, it's not a steady income.

They added: "This is a feeling I’ve never felt before and it’s honestly terrible."

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Students in Scotland can apply for financial support from SAAS during the academic year and typically have a three-month payment free break.

However in the wake of the Covid pandemic, NUS Scotland called for students to receive a summer payment.

A recent poll of 549 Scottish students, carried out by NUS in March, revealed 31 per cent were left unable to pay bills during the previous three months, including 24 per cent who could not pay their full rent.

It also revealed that 78 per cent of students were worried about the effect of the pandemic and the impact it had on them securing a job, with almost a quarter (24 per cent) stating they were either “extremely” or “very” concerned.

Dylan is a student at Edinburgh Napier University
(Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

Dylan, whose mum tragically passed away from cancer in 2012, said: "£62 is the only money I have until my next paycheck and I don't know when that will be."

"When I first started university, I paid for my own food, phone bill and basic expenditures and then my dad would cover the household bills.

"But when he got laid off, I started helping out with bills using my SAAS payments so we could make ends meet.

"Before the pandemic half my money was going to travel because I was studying in Edinburgh but when I didn't have to travel anymore I had that extra bit of money I could contribute with."

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Dylan says their SAAS payments had been helping keep the family afloat and added they never expected to find themselves in this situation.

The teenager said: "The SAAS money was so important because it helped keep myself afloat and pay dad for my bills.

"Then I began using it to help out to ensure we have electricity and water and all that stuff.

"Even before the pandemic, it was hard to find jobs while studying full time and it's even harder now.

"A lot of students hoped payments would be extended through the summer to help us get by but obviously that hasn't happened.

"I'm one of the lucky ones, I have a support network around me but some other students don't even have that.

"It's such a strange feeling. You read in the news about people who need to survive on Universal Credit and think 'oh my god, I'm so lucky' and then when it actually happens to you, it's genuinely surreal.

"I just don't know how to describe it, you don't think it will happen to you until it does and you don't know where to go from that."

Minister for Higher and Further Education Jamie Hepburn said: “We know the pandemic has had a significant impact on students with many facing financial difficulties.

"To help alleviate this burden and stress, earlier this year, we committed an extra £25 million of financial support.

"We are currently considering what support students require over the summer months and details of further financial help will be announced imminently.”