A recent study by Accommodation for Students has revealed that two thirds
of students have more than one form of income, meaning that thousands of
students around the country are now working jobs on top of their degree
just to support themselves.
Not only does a part time job take up valuable hours that could be spent
working on university work, but the pressure of employment can place a
weight onto the mental health of students up and down the country.
Clearly, students are working in order to support themselves through
university, and clearly, the maintenance student loan system is simply not
So, are maintenance loans unrealistic?
Evidently, the answer is yes.
Handed out every academic year to students, the loan system here in the UK
delivers a sum variable on household earnings, for example, if your parents
earn under a certain amount then you will receive more, whilst
students-to-be with wealthier parents are handed out a little less.
The idea is that students with wealthier parents are more likely to be
gifted money, and this can be true from our survey in some form, money from
parents or family members is placed above that of a job in popularity,
mainly because parents are expected to foot the bill in order to help their
child through their studies.
Despite this, the loan fails to take into account the individual
circumstances of every family, whilst one student may come from wealth,
their family may be against supporting them or the family may earn just
above the cap, meaning that a part time job is often necessary.
39 per cent of students have part time jobs, whilst a whopping 62 per cent
work full time in the holidays to have enough money come the autumn term.
The average student is now graduating with around £50,000 of debt on their
So, where exactly is the loan going wrong?
The loan does not take into account the renting increases happening up and
down the country.
Many students now have to sit and watch as their loan comes in before
swiftly being taken out again to pay for their accommodation.
Renting is becoming much more prevalent and popular, as families and young
people decide to rent closer to city centres, therefore filling up
accommodation which would have usually been used by students.
Hence, the cost of living for students is on the rise and student
accommodation, where once was an affordable option, is now on the up,
mounting to monumental costs.
According to the property reporter, rent in London is on the increase,
whilst rent is also rising in Wales and the Midlands.
In terms of student rent, there were protests just last week at Durham
University to challenge the decision to increase student accommodation on
campus from £4,854 to £7,171 for the next academic year.
With the maximum loan to receive being £8430 for the year, the students’
reasons for protesting become rather apparent, as they would be left with
just over £1000 to support themselves with all year.
These statistics become even more daunting upon the realisation that
certain universities such as Oxford and Cambridge do not permit students to
have jobs due to the heavy workload, meaning that any student taking up a
job is doing so out of necessity and compromising their degree in the
In light of these rent increases alongside a low student loan, more and
more students are actually commuting to university, with the Independent
reporting that thousands of students are now commuting in order to avoid
the cost of accommodation on top of college, an esteemed luxury that more
and more are unable to afford.
Next, the loan does not take into account the overall cost of living, in
terms of food shopping- the average student spends around £29 a week on
food- utilities and bills.
The cost of living has increased seven times faster than that of wages,
meaning that students are definitely feeling the pinch with their strapped
loan, with many finding that their loan does not even cover their
accommodation, let alone the average cost of living in 2018.
With only 32 per cent of all students feeling that their degree and their
whole university experience is value for money, it appears that the
staggering costs of university are now impacting on student’s studies.
With living costs soaring, the Telegraph have reported that half of all
students run out of their student loan half way through the academic term,
with most of the loan being eaten up by accommodation costs.
Although young students do have a bit of a reputation for going a little
crazy with the debit card upon each loan instalment, this evident lack of
funds cannot be blamed entirely on poor financial management.
University books can cost up to hundreds of pounds and whilst grants
(gifted money) are available, they are often hard to access and rare to
win, meaning that academic expenses can also add up!
Lastly, travel is an extremely large expense that can eat into a student’s
maintenance loan, especially for people in London. The tube costs an
average of £66 per month, whilst some student bus passes are around
£250-£300, a substantial amount if you’ve already paid up front for your
accommodation, bills and you need to do your weekly food shop.
So, what do you think of it all? Does there need to be a shake-up of the
student loan system, or are students dealing with enough debt at the
moment- many students face the prospect of paying off over £40,000- to be
given larger loans.
Despite this, according to Future Finance, 28 per cent of all students in
the UK worry that they will not be able to finish their studies due to
Student opportunities for education are now being thwarted by financial
burdens, whilst rent and the cost of living continues to climb.
Surely, a change is needed soon?