Government’s financial help for students is ‘lacking’

Steve Lumley·24 October 2022·5 min read
Government’s financial help for students is ‘lacking’

The financial help for students from the government is lacking and many are struggling to pay their bills, one platform says.

Save the Student says there are several challenges when it comes to managing money while at university and this is made worse by the current cost of living crisis.

They say that maintenance loans account for more than half of the average student’s living costs every month.

Their National Student Money Survey shows that students are struggling, and the government needs to step in and offer more financial and support packages.

Living costs since 2021 have risen by 14%

Among their findings, the platform says living costs since 2021 have risen by 14%.

That means that the average student is now forking out £924 every month, while students in London are spending £1,089.

The maintenance loan falls short by £439 every month - last year the gap was £340.

Researchers also found that one in 10 students admitted to using a food bank in the past year, and 82% of students worry about how they will make ends meet.

The stress and anxiety mean that four out of five students have considered dropping out of university – and 52% say their money worries have led them to consider this.

Financial situation that students are currently facing

The platform’s Jake Butler said the survey’s latest result is the most worried he’s ever been about the financial situation that students are currently facing.

He added: “This year’s findings are bleak and much worse is yet to come.

“The £439 monthly shortfall between real living costs and student loans is particularly alarming with students struggling to bridge this gap.”

The managing director of Accommodation for Students, Simon Thompson, said: “There’s no doubt that students are increasingly struggling financially, and student landlords have been very helpful in recent years when students tell them they are under pressure to meet the rent, for example.

“Lots of students have to work part-time to pay for their studies and there’s a good argument for increasing the maintenance loan for students to make things easier so they can focus on graduating.”

How different student cities are being affected

The current student accommodation crisis in Edinburgh has been highlighted with news that one student has been scammed by a fake landlord out of £1,000. International student Liza Leblanc is now warning others about the housing crisis and after she began searching Facebook groups to find somewhere to live after realising how competitive the student rental market is. The Canadian posted that she was looking for a flat and exchanged emails with a potential landlord. She and a friend sent a total £2,100 - but when they turned up to view the flat, the landlord had disappeared. A report from Citylets also highlights that the average cost of accommodation in Edinburgh is now more than £800 per month which accounts for 92% of the Scottish student loan of £7750.

A survey from Homesearch reveals that the cheapest areas for students to live in are the University of Aberdeen and Durham University. There, students pay £712 per month and £806 per month respectively. Exeter, Leicester Liverpool are also very cheap for students. The most expensive destinations for students are Imperial College London at £6,980 per month - thanks to the cost of renting houses in South Kensington, followed by the University of Edinburgh at £2,466. Next is the University of Cambridge which costs students £2,033 per month, followed by the University of Sussex at £1,801.

Exeter needs to provide more purpose-built homes for students with the council leader preferring this accommodation type to living in private homes. He says that in 2017, a decision was made to ensure that 70% of students in Exeter were living in purpose-built accommodation and the local plan aims to encourage co-living accommodation. The council leader, Coun Phil Bialyk also says that he would like to see more graduates remain in Exeter after completing their studies - the current figure is just 17% of graduates will continue living there.

The University of Bolton has approved a rent-a-room scheme that could see locals earning £7,000 by taking in a student lodger . The move is to address the increase in student numbers and the cost-of-living crisis this year. A government initiative enables someone taking in a lodger to earn up to £7,500 tax-free. The university says there has been a threefold increase in postgraduate and international students this year and there is a desperate need for accommodation.