Almost 45,000 'free' meals given to UHI Inverness students
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The provision of 'free' breakfasts and lunches for all students at UHI Inverness to reduce the number quitting their studies due to financial pressures has won the UHI Student Support Initiative Awards 2023.
The winning entry 'supporting student retention and wellbeing during the cost-of-living-crisis' provided a strategic commitment to addressing financial hardship through a variety of means, including the provision of a 'free' breakfast and lunch for every student.
UHI Inverness recognised that students continue to be adversely affected by the cost-of-living crisis, and the disproportionate impact it was having on certain demographics. A key priority post-pandemic was to support students to ensure they sustained their studies, did not come to class hungry and successfully engaged in their learning.
Funding was provided through a donation to the UHI development and alumni engagement office and from the Inverness Common Good Fund.
A total of 44,948 portions of food were served between August 2022 and April 2023. On average, around 650 'free' breakfasts and 930 'free' lunches were served each week. UHI Inverness says as well as the health and wellbeing benefits for individuals, the impact on student retention has been pronounced – early withdrawals reduced by 2.9 per cent, with further withdrawals reduced by 2.6 per cent.
Dr Iain Morrison, UHI’s Dean of Student Experience who runs the scheme, said: “I set these awards up a few years ago because I wanted to capture and celebrate one of our core institutional strengths: the support we provide to our students.
“This year's entries are fantastic evidence of the creative approach taken by staff to focus on and support student needs, be they brought on by external economic factors or intrinsic issues relating to particular groups of students."