A significant number of students have found themselves unable to pay rent and bills during the Covid pandemic, a survey has revealed.

NUS Scotland, which carried out the research, said problems were likely to have worsened with the most recent lockdown announcement.

It left the majority of student renters liable to pay for accommodation that they are not allowed to access until the middle of February.

Phase three of the Coronavirus and Students Survey took place in November. Involving 653 students from Scotland, it built upon previous research issued by NUS in April and September last year.

Union leaders said the survey revealed that more than two thirds (71 per cent) of student renters north of the Border were concerned about their ability to pay landlords.

A quarter were unable to pay rent while a third were unable to cover bills. With 40% of students living in rented accommodation of some sort, the survey also showed that one in seven believe they would not be allowed to leave their tenancy agreement early due to the pandemic.

And, in an indication that some have had to reconsider arrangements due to Covid, the proportion of students living with parents or guardians has increased since July - from 13% to 32%.

HeraldScotland: A student takes part in coronavirus testing.A student takes part in coronavirus testing.

Matt Crilly, NUS Scotland President, said: “It will come as no surprise that over two-thirds of students are concerned about their ability to make rental payments, and this will have only increased with the most recent lockdown announcement.

“These survey results highlight the crucial need for intervention from the Scottish Government.

“As things stand, students are being expected to pay rent for accommodation they can’t use.

“We continue to call on the Scottish Government to ensure urgent financial support is available so that no student is left out of pocket while following public health guidance.

“It’s also a real concern that many students feel their notice to end their tenancy would not be accepted as students have a legal right to leave their accommodation, which all landlords have a duty to uphold.”

He added: “Throughout the pandemic students have lacked the certainty they need to leave their accommodation contracts early.

“If students don’t need to return this semester they should be told now.

“Students deserve better than yet another term of uncertainty.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Beatrice Wishart said: “Students have had a raw deal. With online learning continuing throughout February, many are stuck paying for student accommodation or private housing they can’t use.

"The Government should ensure these students are treated fairly and are supported with a proper rebate."