One in four students have less than £50 to live on each month says NUS report
A quarter of UK university students have less than £50 to live on each month, research by the National Union of Students (NUS) has found.
As a result, two in three students have sought financial assistance, with one in five relying on credit cards, and five percent having to visit food banks.
The research was gathered from a survey sent out to university students in January. The survey also found that despite three in four students having a job alongside their studies, 79 percent are worried about managing financially. Furthermore, the research found that over half of students with a loan or bursary do not believe it covers the cost of living.
The findings come as the UK cost-of-living crisis further intensified last week – Friday 1 April saw household bills soar, with energy bills rising by 54 percent. The surging costs of fuel, energy, and food means that UK inflation is rising at the fastest rate for 30 years –up 6.2 percent in February and is likely to average 7.4 percent for the rest of this year. Consequently, the UK is likely to see the biggest fall in living standards in the post-war era.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his Spring Statement on Wednesday 23 March with a series of measures to help combat the current cost-of-living crisis, including cutting fuel duty by 5p per litre, raising the threshold for National Insurance, and pledging to cut basic rate of income tax by 2024. However, it has received significant backlash for not doing enough to help people cope with the crisis, with a number of Tory MPs calling for more government support.
“Current students will not benefit from many of the main measures announced to address the cost-of-living crisis. But they will pay for them as graduates.”David Kernohan, editor at Wonkhe
The mini-budget has also been poorly received by those in the Higher Education sector. David Kernohan, an editor at Wonkhe, has suggested that the changes being made to student loan repayments are funding the measures promised by Sunak in his Spring Statement. He said: “Current students will not benefit from many of the main measures announced to address the cost-of-living crisis. But they will pay for them as graduates.
“A quarter of Sunak’s much flaunted “fiscal headroom” comes from the changes made to student loan repayments recently by the Department for Education – £5bn.”
The NUS President Larissa Kennedy released a statement responding the Chancellor’s Spring Statement which described it as a “disgrace.”
In the statement she said: “This was a moment where students desperately needed a lifeline from this Government; instead, this is a nail in the coffin.
“Students are paying hundreds of pounds extra in energy bills, relying on foodbanks thanks to soaring inflation, and being forced to choose between heating and eating. Instead of addressing these issues, today’s announcements saw the Government say that they will be taking an extra £35 billion from graduates thanks to their student loan changes over the next five years.
“Today’s statement was steeped in calculated cruelness. With the cost-of-living crisis getting worse, the Chancellor could have used today as a chance to show he has listened to our experiences. He could have introduced rent protections, offered basic levels of maintenance support, and reversed his plans to cut the student loan repayment threshold. This would have protected the most vulnerable students – so it’s no surprise the Government ignored us.”
The Exeter Students’ Guild has provided a page of resources for students and a list of ways to reduce energy use here.
In response to the NUS report, a University of Exeter spokesperson highlighted the ‘Success for All Fund’ – an alumni-supported fund for students facing financial hardship. Eligible students can use the fund to help cover living expenses and rent. Details about the Fund can be found here.