Students ‘struggle to survive’ as loans not enough for soaring cost of living

Students are “struggling to survive” as government support fails to keep pace with the soaring cost of living, it is claimed.

Universities have raised concerns over growing financial pressure which has forced many students to take on more paid work this year in an attempt to cope with the soaring cost of living, fearing their study capacity will be undermined. be affected.

The Independent spoke to students struggling to fit into college work as they try to fund their college education in an economic crisis.

A second-year student said she works 20 hours a week despite the pressure it puts on her studies. But without this work, she says, she could not afford to buy vegetables.

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University students receive a maintenance loan for their living expenses – including rent – ​​which varies according to household income.

Students living away from home can receive between £4,524 and £9,706 this year if they are outside London. In the capital, it’s between £6,308 and £12,677.

Loans disbursed are about 2.3% higher than last year, well below the 10% inflation rate.

Hannah Nimmo, of the University of York Students’ Union, says she is concerned that students “will not be able to afford to live sufficiently” due to the cost of living crisis – especially with the additional costs that occur during the winter.

She says the financial pressures that affect everyone — such as soaring energy bills and gas costs — are compounded by maintenance loans that don’t keep pace with inflation.

Jess Rafferty juggles a law degree and a job in Matalan

(Provided)

“This leaves students strapped for financial resources and as a result risk getting cold from not turning on their central heating or going hungry from skipping meals to cut their grocery bills,” she says.

Chloe Field from the National Union of Students (NUS) says The Independent that students are “uniquely constrained” when it comes to improving their income. International students are only allowed to work 20 hours a week due to visa restrictions, while UK students must always balance any work they take on with their studies.

“We often work in the most precarious jobs and work two or three to make ends meet, but everyone realizes that no amount of budgeting can help in this crisis when the money is not there in the first place,” she said.

Field, who is the NUS Vice President for Higher Education, adds: “Students are our future doctors, teachers and nurses, but right now many are struggling to simply survive, let alone thrive, in their education.”

Jess Rafferty, a sophomore at Lancaster University, has to juggle a law degree and work 20 hours a week in Matalan. “It’s so tiring. Basically, I work whenever I can when I’m not at university,” she says. The Independent.

The 19-year-old says that doesn’t leave her enough time to study. In addition to the time spent at work, it’s a two-hour drive each way.

She sometimes comes home late without having time to prepare for the next day and has to quickly speed up the work between classes. But even so, she needs the work. “I can actually afford to buy vegetables because I work,” she says.

Master’s student Tana Randle juggles three different jobs to try to get by. Hours vary. “I can’t guarantee that every month I will earn enough,” says the 21-year-old, who is estranged from her family.

Tana Randle says she’s juggling three jobs and her studies

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The student at Royal Holloway, University of London, says she wishes she had more time to focus on her studies. Instead, she just has to “mix” any free time between work, classes and commuting.

“I will be home from work at 10:30 p.m. and I did not have the opportunity to work that day. I’ll be up until midnight just to make sure I’ve finished my seminar prep. And then it’s off again at 7am the next morning to go to work.

Professor Tracy Bhamra, deputy vice-principal at Royal Holloway, said the university had “worked hard” to support students through the cost of living crisis, including doubling the budget for its hardship grant.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Lancaster University said the university offered a range of financial support and support programs for students, including emergency financial aid for those experiencing immediate hardship.

Newcastle University said The Independent he had learned anecdotally that students were taking more hours off paid work this year to meet the cost of living. As a result, he expanded work opportunities on campus.

Sophie Mattholie says she is delaying turning on the heating in her student house

(Provided)

Earlier this month, an analysis revealed that around 300,000 students would be badly affected by the cost of living crisis without additional help.

Sophie Mattholie, a 19-year-old studying at York University, says her roommate postponed turning on the heating in a bid to save money – despite the potential for negative health effects .

“Two of us have joint problems which are made worse by the cold,” she says. “That’s about how long we can afford to have it, because it’s so expensive.”

A spokesperson for Universities UK (UUK) said the institutions recognize these are “clearly difficult times” for students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, with caring responsibilities or away from family.

A spokesperson for the Russell Group said its universities are “concerned about the growing financial pressures on students, and the impact this will have on their education and their overall mental health and well-being”.

Both groups said their members are stepping up their support for students, including offering financial aid to those who are struggling. UUK said increased support for student wellbeing and mental health was being made available.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said it had increased maintenance loans each year to help students with living costs, with disadvantaged students now having access to ‘highest amounts ever’ cash”.

They said students worried about making ends meet should contact their university about available support. Universities can boost hardship funds by tapping up to £261million made available through the Office for Students, they added.

A University of York spokesperson said: ‘We are truly sorry to hear of these experiences and encourage students to get in touch to see what other support is available.’

The named universities have been contacted for comment.

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