University’s unique bus subsidy saves students and staff £17,000 in first fortnight
A move by the University of St Andrews to support students and staff through the cost-of-living and energy crisis with 75 per cent off bus travel across the whole of East Scotland – thought to be the first initiative of its kind by a University – has seen almost 500 people benefit from the subsidy in its first few weeks.
The cost-cutting partnership between the University and Stagecoach has saved staff and students – those not already eligible for the Scottish Government’s free travel for the under 22s – a whopping £17,000 in its first two weeks, with the average person saving £36 a week on travel. A total of 573 tickets have been bought by 476 different people with the most popular ticket being the North East Fife Flexi5, bought by 150 people, closely followed by the North East Fife 7-Day Megarider ticket.
These ticket packages not only help cut the cost of travel for work and study but their flexibility means staff and students can use them at weekends, a move which also helps cut carbon by reducing car journeys.
The bus travel scheme is just one of a raft of measures by the University – one of North East Fife’s largest employers – to help ameliorate the impact of the crisis on students and staff.
In a bid to support students and keep their fuel bills as low as possible, the University has increased opening hours at many of its buildings, including libraries, labs and classrooms, to create warm spaces.
Offering support with food bills is also at the heart of the University’s cost-of-living support packages. As well as lowering the price of staff meal deals at its cafes, the University is offering an all-day £1.50 meal deal where students can choose from a selection of sandwiches, toasties and panini, a snack, and a hot or cold drink. Other initiatives will also be available to support students staying in St Andrews over the festive period.
University Quaestor, Derek Watson, said: “We are very pleased to see so many staff and students benefitting from the bus travel scheme, and we will continue to monitor the uptake of this during the six-month pilot period. In addition to helping cut costs, encouraging bus travel is good for the environment and will help ease congestion in St Andrews.
“Helping our staff and students through the cost-of-living crisis is our main priority and we will continue to develop initiatives to target support where it’s needed most.”
The move has been supported by the St Andrews Students’ Association. Director of Wellbeing and Equality, Emma Craig, said: “The Students’ Association has been working with the University to take steps to alleviate the effects of the cost-of-living crisis on our student and staff community. The discounted bus travel costs will hopefully reduce barriers our students face to engage not only with their studies – accessing study spaces, in-person office hours, and group study sessions – but also with student life here in St Andrews, including student sport, activities, events and societies, and the support services available to students.
“This is an especially important resource for our commuting students, including those who are based outside of St Andrews due to unaffordable or unavailable accommodation, caring responsibilities, families, and other factors.”
Emma added: “As a rural University, the St Andrews community is sometimes seen as a ‘bubble’ – we are always working to expand that bubble to make all our students and staff feel included and facilitate access to the campus for everyone.
“With costs rising across the board, the last thing we want our students to have to cut down on is food. The Students’ Association’s Cost of Living Guide informs students about available student discounts, food-sharing apps, food banks, and low-cost recipes, and the discounted meals in University cafés are a welcome addition to help our students stay well-nourished and healthy.”
Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.