Students worried about cost of living crisis

December, 2022

Nine out of ten students reported that their cost of living has increased compared to last year, with the same number (91%) worried about the cost of living crisis according to an official survey

The aim of the survey, carried out by The Office for National Statistics (ONS), is to understand the impact of the rising cost of living on the experiences of current higher education students in England. The ONS are keen to stress that the findings are experimental, as the survey has a relatively small sample size of 4,200.

The study found that despite universities offering support in the form of enhanced hardship funds, one-off cost of living payments, cheap meals and the scraping of library fines students are still struggling with their finances.

When asked how their cost of living had increased the majority (93%) said the price of their food shop had risen, while more than half reported that their rent/mortgage and gas and electric bill had gone up (60% and 58% respectively).

The survey also discovered that:

  • Half of students (50%) said they were experiencing financial difficulties, with 35% saying they were minor, while 15% reported major money struggles.
  • More than three quarters (77%) were worried that the crisis might affect how well they do in their studies and over a third (34%) said that they've been put off doing further study once their course ends.
  • 29% of students have skipped non-mandatory lectures, while 31% have passed on opportunities to attend additional course-related events to save on costs.
  • A quarter (25%) have taken on new debt in response to the rising cost of living. This took the form of borrowing more money or using credit cards more often. Of these, 66% observed that they did so as their student loan failed to cover their living costs.
  • Almost one in five (18%) students have considered moving back home to save money on rent, while 6% are planning to do so.
  • Nearly half (45%) reported that their mental health and wellbeing has deteriorated since the start of the 2022 autumn term.

To read the full survey results see, 'Cost of living and higher education students, England: 24 October to & November 2022'.

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