Students are suffering high levels of financial stress as they struggle to support themselves during term time following a real terms decline in the value of the maintenance loan and the rising cost of rent.
According to a survey from the Guardian, one in three students say they have used their overdraft to cover rent and a quarter of students find managing their money stressful.
Although most students receive a means-tested maintenance loan from the government to cover their living costs, nearly half of respondents (43%) said they had run out of money by the end of the semester, while one in three (32%) used their overdraft to cover their rent and household bills.
Over two-thirds of students rely on the loan – averaging at £509 per month – to finance themselves. Meanwhile, the NatWest survey found that rent prices for students have increased by £20 per month since 2018, with the biggest increases – 5% and 15% – registered in London and student towns in the south east while the value of that loan has fallen since it was introduced in 2012.
Eva Crossan Jory, vice-president for welfare at the National Union of Students said, “More and more students are balancing university work and caring responsibilities and often student parents are hit the hardest through unfair funding systems,”
According to the Guardian, financial stress has been linked to poor mental health in students, but just 40% of those surveyed said they felt supported by their university to manage their finances.
Crossan Jory said. “Central government should address the way in which student support is calculated to ensure that it takes into account rises in the cost of living for learners.”
The report also noted that students are spending less time on their academic work and more time on unpaid work experience and remain worried about their future job prospects.