Scottish students could miss out on thousands of pounds offered through independent scholarships just as colleges prepare to see their bursary budgets slashed by £7m.

Scottish students could miss out on thousands of pounds offered through independent scholarships just as colleges prepare to see their bursary budgets slashed by £7m.

The Scholarship Hub website has revealed that many of this year's freshers could be eligible for generous grants based on all kinds of unlikely factors, such as their writing skills, their parents' jobs and even a passion for TV. But many do not realise this extra funding exists, with experts fearing that students will struggle on at a time when financial support from colleges is drying up.

The National Union of Students is currently investigating college grants in the hope that it can expose "cracks in the system" and trigger widespread reform. It is calling for students to submit their views as part of its Student Poverty Project, offering £100 to five random contributors as an incentive.

It follows the revelation in February that the SNP would not maintain extra funding for college bursaries, worth £10.4m, that had been provided in 2014, a decision described by the NUS as "disappointing".

Meanwhile in the general election campaign, the SNP is backing Labour's pledge to cut English tuition fees by a third to £6000.

Gordon Maloney, president of NUS Scotland, has said that the failure to renew extra funding North of the Border means that "college students will see a significant and damaging cut in funding for their vital bursaries next year".

Karen Kennard, director of the Scholarship Hub, encouraged students to look beyond their chosen university or degree for a financial lifeline.

She said: "When you apply to university, the institution concerned will advise you about the scholarships they have available, but not all students will realise that they could be eligible scholarships are not linked to your university or your subject choices."

Ms Kennard argued that universities lacked time and resources to track down "every available funding opportunity", so the onus was on students to investigate what is out there. "There are an increasing number of scholarships now being offered, including more and more from America opening to UK students. These grants can really help to reduce your student debt and, in some cases, even provide you with mentoring and work experience."

There are currently two scholarships available exclusively for Scottish students. The Royal Caledonian Education Trust provides financial help for children of Scottish parents who have served in the Armed forces. It considers applications for student funding in June and October. Meanwhile, the Carnegie Trust assesses Scottish candidates for its bursary scheme in May and December.

Many worldwide scholarships are also available, including the Invensis Young Thinker Scholarship, based in the US. It is inviting students from all over the world to write 600 words about disruptive mobile technology before the end of July - the best essay wins a $500 grant. Likewise, contributors to a survey by US firm Best Price Nutrition have a chance of winning one scholarship worth $1000, with British residents allowed to take part.

Those who have a desire to work in TV may want to investigate the Royal Television Society's bursaries. Students on Computer Science or Engineering courses can apply for one of five bursaries worth £1000 a year whilst they study. There are also 20 awards worth £3,000 available for anyone who is studying broadcast journalism or television production. All recipients get free RTS membership for a period of time and placements within the industry during their final year of study. The closing date for both opportunities is 1 June.