Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 15, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
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Students consider dropping out amidst cost of living crisis

Amidst the current cost of living crisis, many students are struggling to afford rent, bills and food, as well as having to cut back on social activities. This is having a negative impact on their wellbeing and their education.
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Students consider dropping out amidst cost of living crisis

Image: Rachel Cunningham

Amidst the current cost of living crisis, many students are struggling to afford rent, bills and food, as well as having to cut back on social activities. This is having a negative impact on their wellbeing and their education.

31 per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Exeposé have said that they have considered dropping out of University due to financial worries.

This figure highlights the effect that the current cost of living crisis is having on students, with many students having to take on extra hours at work, during term time or during the holidays.

Ultimately, this demonstrates how the cost of living crisis is having an adverse effect on those students who are struggling the most to keep up with rising costs. By needing to work part-time to afford rent, bills, food and other essentials, these students are detracting from their studying time, making them unfairly disadvantaged compared to those who are more financially stable.

Despite the fact that many students receive financial help in the form of the government maintenance loan, many of the students who responded to the Exeposé survey stated how their maintenance loan only covers their rent. All other expenses have to be funded by family,  part-time work, or both.

One student even stated: “I am severely in my overdraft with no way of getting out due to [the] cost of living crisis and the maintenance loan. It doesn’t even cover my rent!”.

This financial pressure felt by many students has had detrimental effects on their physical and mental wellbeing, with some saying that they are skipping meals, living in unheated homes, and feeling increased levels of stress and anxiety, wondering how they will make their money stretch far enough to cover even the essentials.

The University does offer an array of financial help services, including the Success for All Fund, The Finance Helpdesk, the Money advice and support webpage and services such as ‘Managing your money- a budget workshop’ that runs every Monday in term time.

However, there is a concern that many students are unaware of these services, or unsure which is the most appropriate one to meet their needs. For example, only a third of respondents to the Exeposé survey were aware of the Finance Helpdesk, and only 11 per cent knew about the budgeting workshop.

In response to these concerns about student loans not keeping up with rising costs in the cost of living crisis, a University spokesperson made this statement: 

We recognise that students are feeling anxious about the rising cost of living, and we were disappointed that the DfE has failed to deliver a meaningful increase to maintenance loans, despite warnings that students would be worse off next year.

At Exeter, we have invested over £3 million to support students during the cost of living crisis and we are continually reviewing the impact on our students and considering what further we can do to support, however, we recognise that additional Government assistance is also urgently needed to address the growing financial pressures.

There is information, advice and support available to students who may be struggling, which they can find on our website. Our Cost of Living group also continues to meet, working in partnership with our Students’ Guild and Students’ Union.” 

At Exeter, we have invested over £3 million to support students during the cost of living crisis and we are continually reviewing the impact on our students and considering what further we can do to support

University of Exeter Spokesperson

On January 11 this year, the government announced its ‘Cost of living boost for students’, which includes freezing tuition fees for the next two academic years, and that undergraduate and postgraduate loans would be increased by 2.8 per cent for the 2023/24 academic year.

Although any increase in student finance has been welcomed by students, with one respondent heralding it as an ‘Extremely positive decision’, many feel that this does not go far enough. With inflation at 10.5 per cent in December 2022 in the UK, evidently a 2.8 per cent increase will make little difference to plugging the hole created by the cost of living crisis.

Moreover, many students have expressed the opinion that these changes are not being acted upon soon enough, with plans to boost student’s finances in September doing nothing to help those students who are financially struggling now.

Overall, it is clear that the current cost of living crisis is having a detrimental effect, with the support offered by the University and the government not going far enough for some students. This increase in financial struggle has ultimately lead some students to consider dropping out because they can no longer afford to study at University.

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