How the cost-of-living crisis is hitting students

Steve Lumley·29 November 2022·5 min read
How the cost-of-living crisis is hitting students

The cost-of-living crisis is taking its toll on students, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal.

In its latest Student Cost of Living Insights study, the ONS reveals that 91% of students in higher education said that their cost-of-living expenses had risen when compared with last year. A similar number said they are either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ worried about rising costs. Worryingly, 50% of students say they have financial difficulties currently, and 35% say these are minor issues but 15% say they are in major financial difficulties. And nearly 60% of students say that their rent has increased.

Had to take on new debt to meet rising bills

Also, 25% of students say they have had to take on new debt to meet rising bills, with two-thirds saying they had to do so because their student loan doesn’t cover their bills.

This is also having an impact on studies, with 77% of students saying that rising bills are affecting their studies, and 34% say they are less likely to undertake further studies once their course has finished.

The survey also shows that 18% have looked at moving back into the family home to save money and then commuting to university.

The ONS also said that 45% of students are reporting that their well-being and health have worsened since the autumn term began several weeks ago.

Students are spending less on essentials

In a bid to deal with these rising costs, students say that they are spending less on essentials and food shopping, with 52% admitting to having to dip into savings, and 38% are spending less on electricity and gas in their home.

A small minority are also using food banks and accessing support from charities to help them get by.

Simon Thompson, the managing director of Accommodation for Students, said: “Surveys like this are interesting for landlords and letting agents because they give a good insight into the financial struggles that many students are facing.

“Landlords are not immune to rising costs and will be aware that their student tenants may struggle to pay a rent rise, so landlords need to think carefully about running a profitable business but enjoying having responsible tenants in their property.”

Universities in the UK say they are worried about their ability to support international students who are bringing them dependents. While universities do not have to provide accommodation for overseas students with families, they say they are keen to support them. One university has told Pie News that there has been a big increase in the number of international students arriving with dependents – numbers have risen by more than 300% in just two years.

Collegiate, the national student accommodation provider , says it has now completed the onboarding of the Arlington portfolio. Over the past two years, the firm has taken control of 34 properties to expand its purpose-built student accommodation portfolio. It now offers more than 10,500 student beds in several major UK cities.

Students at Glasgow University are calling for a cap on student numbers amid fears that some students are now having to sleep rough because there’s so little accommodation available . The university’s student representative council says it wants a public commitment to capping student numbers for the coming five years and says the university is already considering doing this. Last month, it was revealed that the university was paying for 70 students to stay in a hotel because they had nowhere else to live. The student council says some students are sleeping rough and many are sofa surfing because of the accommodation crisis. This is, they point out, down to university student numbers growing by a third in five years.

A worrying survey has revealed that one in 10 students admit they would not report a fire-safety issue with their accommodation because they believe the landlord would not fix it. The findings were part of a survey for Fire Door Safety Week, and it highlights that the risk of fire is seven times higher in shared and rented housing. Despite this, 12% of students said they wouldn’t report a fire issue, compared with 13% of non-student tenants. Problems include having five doors propped open in accommodation for 10% of those who were surveyed. One former letting agent quoted in the story said this was an example of ‘uncaring and unscrupulous landlords and agents’ who are taking a casual approach to tenant safety and their tenants don’t have the resources and knowledge to defend their rights.