THE NUMBER of students attending counselling at universities in Glasgow has soared in the last five years.

Issues that drove them to the brink included sexual abuse, eating disorders, ­relationship problems and depression.

More than 1300 students from Glasgow University signed up to see a counsellor in the last academic year, a rise of 160 per cent since 2008.

At the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), the number of students seeking help has risen by 112 per cent in the same time period.

One student studying at UWS, which has campuses in Paisley, Ayr, Hamilton and Dumfries, turned to the university-run service for support when he was struggling to cope financially, having being made redundant shortly before starting his course.

Another postgraduate student said she needed help following a relationship breakdown at the start of her course. She said: "I was feeling overwhelmed and very down, and financial issues were a worry too.

"I didn't want to go and talk to my doctor, but I knew I wanted to get some sort of support to get me through a difficult time.

The recent economic downturn has left many students struggling to cope on their already squeezed budgets, which student representative Jessica McGrellis thinks may be a factor in the increasing numbers seeking counselling.

Ms McGrellis, who is the president of Glasgow University's Students' Representative Council, said: "I think a lot of students, particularly in the current economic climate, put a lot of pressure on themselves to do really well.

"It's not good enough to get just a degree, you have to get a really good degree and do a lot of other things as well.

Glasgow Caledonian University has also seen a 27 per cent increase in the number of students asking for help since 2010.

It attributes this to ­heightened visibility and awareness of the services offered".