The hospitality industry is already trying to protect students from the financial impact of the higher education charges. The first Pounds 20,000 bursaries have been awarded to Aberdeen, Glenrothes and Inverness Colleges and the Scottish School of Service Industry Management at Glasgow Caledonian University.
The Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, chaired by hotelier Peter Lederer, hopes to give more support to students next year following the success of the Walkathon 1997 appeal. Sixty per cent of the 40 qualifying colleges and universities submitted applications for the first bursaries.
Mr Lederer, managing director of Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, said: "We believe we are the first industry-based trust to address students' financial restraints in this manner." The cash is aimed at promising students who are at risk of dropping out.
"We want to help them progress to the next stage of their studies secure in the knowledge that we are helping to provide the means to decent accommodation and healthy food," Mr Lederer said.
Moira Boyd, programme leader for hospitality management at Caledonian University, which was given a Pounds 5,000 award, said: "We will be able to spread it around a few students who have great potential but just don't have the money to carry on and take higher qualifications. We are going to restrict the cash to students who have tried all other sources of finance and have failed."
With the expected proceeds from the Walkathon, together with business sponsorship, the trust says it is confident that more colleges will receive awards in the future.