UK cost of living: ‘82% of uni students have money worries’

A survey by the Save the Student advocacy group found that more than half of students are considering dropping out of college for financial reasons

Financial concerns force university students to drop out before graduation (Image: PA)

What did the Save the Student survey find?

Save the Student’s annual money survey asked 2,370 university students from across the UK how they were managing their living expenses. The election was postponed to student unions and unions between May 17 and August 11, 2022.

The results paint a picture of students struggling to study effectively because of money concerns. Some have even questioned whether they can afford to continue their studies.

Some university students are forced to address blackboards (Image: Getty Images)

59% of respondents said their mental health was deteriorating because of money worries, another 47% said their diet had suffered, and another 38% said they found difficulty sleeping.

In the 2021-22 academic year, the survey found that one in ten students was forced to use a blackboard. Financial concerns prompted 52% of those surveyed to consider dropping out of college.

When asked where students get money from, the proportion of money received by parents has fallen by seven percentage points compared to the previous year (66% to 59%). According to Save the Student, this decline could be due to the cost of living crisis.

At the same time, the savings rate increased by seven percentage points (50% to 57%). More than half of respondents (56%) said they had less than £1,000 in savings.

In addition to providing numbers, the survey also collected verbal responses from students about how their finances are affecting their studies.

A freshman at the University of Surrey said: “I go several days without eating to pay my rent.”

Another University of Chichester student said: “With prices soaring at the moment, I’m having a hard time staying positive about life.”

Students have said they have to choose between food and rent (Picture: Getty Images)

What has the government said about the Save the Student Survey?

Save the Student described the results as “gloomy” and urged the government to do more to help students.

In particular, it called on the Department of Education (DfE) to address the “alarming” gap between students’ living expenses and their maintenance loans. The average deficit has risen from £340 in the 2020/21 academic year to £439 a month (a 29% increase), with 66% of respondents saying the support is not enough to live on.

“This is the biggest concern I’ve ever had about student finances,” said Save the Student money expert Jake Butler.

“In a decade that the National Student Money Survey has been conducted, this year’s results are dismal. And we anticipate much worse to come.

“We welcome the news that energy bills will be capped for two years, but the new rate is still almost double what households paid last year. Students get the same rate and support as millionaires, despite being among the groups that will continue to struggle.

“Save the student [is calling] Liz Truss and Education Secretary Kit Malthouse to take further action to close the student loan gap before thousands of students are forced to drop out of college.

Students report the cost of living is affecting their academic performance (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

In response, an Education Ministry spokesman said: “We understand that global inflationary pressures are weighing on household finances and people are concerned about covering basics.

“To help students with living expenses, we have increased child support loans every year, which means disadvantaged students now have access to the highest amounts of money ever.

“Students who are afraid of making ends meet should speak to their university about the support they can access. This year universities can top up their hardship funds by tapping up to £261m which we have made available through the Office for Students.”

The government cited a 2.3% increase in student grants and loans as one of the measures it introduced for English students in the coming academic year. However, inflation is currently more than four times this increase.

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