Student Finance and Wellbeing Study (SFWS) Scotland 2023/24

This study captures students’ financial experiences including the adequacy of financial support available, and the impact of finances on wellbeing.

What is the Student Finance and Wellbeing Study?

This study aims to capture students’ financial experiences including your thoughts on the adequacy of financial support available, and the impact of finances on studies and wellbeing. The last time this study took place was 15 years ago. The study offers you a chance to tell the Scottish Government and other interest groups and representatives what is really happening.

The study includes Scottish-domiciled Further Education and Higher Education students (including undergraduate and post-graduates) aged 16 and over. All colleges and universities in Scotland were invited to take part.

How will the findings be used?

The findings from this study will help the Scottish Government understand more about student spending, income, and students’ financial wellbeing and the impact that finances have on students. The findings will inform the development of student support packages that target those most in need, and help future students make informed decisions about higher education. The results will be publicly available and will also be used by interest groups.

Why take part?

A little time to make a big difference 

Yours along with other students responses will provide the Scottish Government with a detailed picture of the finances of students in Scotland. This will be a key source of data on student finances and wellbeing in Scotland so this is a unique opportunity for you to let us know about your experience. No specialist knowledge is required to take part and no individuals will be identified in research findings.

If you take part in the web survey, you can opt into a prize draw with a chance to win an Apple 9th generation iPad worth £370 or one of 6 Love2Shop vouchers worth £50 or £25. Further details and terms and conditions can be found here: Everyone who completes an interview or focus group will receive a £30 Love2Shop voucher to thank them for their time.

Why have I been asked to take part?

To ensure we get a truly representative picture of student experiences across Scotland, all Further Education Colleges and Higher Education Universities were invited to participate in the study. Your College or University has been given instructions on how to randomly select students to take part and you were among the students selected. The study has been designed to ensure that the findings are representative of all students across Scotland. The more students that take part the more accurately the study can reflect the financial experiences of students.

This is a unique opportunity to tell us about your experiences. No respondents will be identifiable in study findings and your college or university will not know whether or not you have taken part. Whether or not you take part will not in any way affect your financial support, bursary loan or any benefits you are or will be receiving.

What questions will you ask?

The survey asks about your experiences as a student. For example, how you are financing your studies and whether student funding affected your decisions. We will also ask you about the costs of studying, any help you get to pay these costs and about the money you have to live on. It’s also a chance to tell us about all the day-to-day things you have to spend money on and how finances impact on your wellbeing. You will be able to skip any question you do not wish to answer. 

At the end of the survey you will be asked if you consent to be contacted to take part in a follow-up interview or focus group. The interviews and focus groups will ask you about your views on student finance and support and the impact finances have on your experiences of studying for a higher or further education course. 

How can I take part?

You can complete the survey on either a laptop, tablet, PC, or your smart phone. You can choose to complete an interview online using Teams or Zoom, or by telephone. Focus groups will be held online using Teams or Zoom.

When do I need to complete the questionnaire by?

The information sent to you by your College or University contains information on when the survey will be open until. If you cannot find this information, you can contact us using the details in the ‘Contact Us’ page.

You can do the survey at a time that is convenient for you. You do not have to complete the questionnaire in one sitting. If you want to take a break and finish it at another time you can just leave the survey and return to complete it later. At the start of the survey you will be given an access code which you can use access the questionnaire if you need to complete it later. Simply close your browser window, then return to the survey link when you’re ready to continue and type in your access code. Please wait at least 5 minutes between closing your browser window and returning to the survey.

When will the interviews and focus groups take place?

The interviews and focus groups will take place between November 2023 and February 2024. 

We will aim to schedule these to meet participants needs. For example, interviews and focus groups can take place throughout the day, including evenings. 

Who is ScotCen?

The Scottish Centre for Social Research (ScotCen) is an integral part of the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen). Based in Edinburgh, we have decades of experience of listening to the public and making sure their voice is heard.

Uncovering real opinions

We are commissioned by government and charities to uncover the real views of people in Scotland today. What we find out is used to inform policy and make a difference to the lives of people across the nation.

Helping the nation

We are a charity and information from surveys we carry out is made publicly available. So it’s not just helping our clients, it’s used by other organisations trying to improve life in Scotland.

Privacy notice

The study privacy notice is available here: About the study - Student Finance and Wellbeing Study Scotland 2023/24 Privacy Notice - (

Need help?

If you have lost or deleted your invite letter with the survey link, in the first instance please speak to a member of the admin/student support staff at your College or University. Ideally this would be the staff member that sent you the invite letter via email. If the survey link doesn’t appear to be working, please double check that you have typed everything correctly. If it is not working please ask a member of admin/student staff at your College or University to contact us directly; or you can contact us yourself using the details in the ‘Contact Us’ page.

Useful contacts

Click here for a list of some useful support organisations that can help if you would like some support or to discuss any of the topics that came up in the research which you might like further advice and support about. 

Visit the page

Contact us

If you have any questions at all, or would like to see copies of any of the surveys, you can contact a member of the research team by emailing

Alternatively, you can contact us on the Freephone number 0800 652 9296.

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