Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “in principle” supportive of summer grants and “all-year-round” financial assistance for students as they grapple with the effects of Covid-19.

It comes amid rapidly growing concern over the situation faced by those doing university and college courses.

Earlier this year, a high-level government taskforce was told by the NUS that as many as 14 per cent of students had been turning to foodbanks.

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A survey published by the union also found that three in five respondents said Covid was having some degree of impact upon their income.

The First Minister was asked during an NUS-hosted online debate about how financial help for students could be increased, particularly during the summer weeks.

She told Tuesday’s event that, while detailed work would be needed to look at how any scheme might “dovetail” with the SNP’s overall assistance package, she was generally in favour of the principle of boosting help.

“All-year-round support provision for students is something we should be looking at,” she said.

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Ms Sturgeon and her fellow participants - Douglas Ross from the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar, Ross Greer from the Greens and LibDem Carole Ford - were also questioned about gender-based violence on campuses.

The First Minister said current levels of violence were “unacceptable” and said her party had a range of schemes in place to provide access to violence prevention and support services.

Mr Greer highlighted the issue of many young people getting to university or college without having been taught about the principle of consent.

Ms Sturgeon, Mr Sarwar and Mr Ross also pledged support for moves to bring in bursaries for student paramedics.