The stereotype of the struggling student scrounging for pennies down the side of the sofa might be a fun one, but for university goers across the UK, this is becoming an increasingly problematic reality. Research by the NUS found that rising tuition fees and expensive accommodation mean that 38% female and 33% male students have reported a deterioration in their mental health as a direct result of financial worries. A further 34% of students have admitted to selling their personal belongings to help fund university, whilst 8% stated that they would consider gambling to cover costs.
On average, rent for the typical UK student is £131 per week. However, this is often alongside extortionate letting fees which can cost around £509. Even with student financial loans, rent can be so expensive that students are left with just £8 per week for living costs after it has been paid. This has left several students in difficult positions where they are forced to live at home or continue in university accommodation after first year to ease the financial burden. Rosalynn, 20, had to remain living in university halls as rent for housing was well beyond her budget. Even after making this sacrifice, her father had to withdraw money from his pension fund to help his daughter fund her degree.
Concerns about money have left 44% of students stating that they struggle to keep up with rent. 45% of students surveyed said that their mental health has suffered as a result.
London is the worst perpetrating city, with its notorious rent prices costing students an average of £212 per week. The most expensive London universities were SOAS, UCL and King’s College respectively. The cheapest university accommodation was at Queen Mary’s, although this was still priced at £134 per week.
However, rent is not the only worry for London-based students. A monthly travel pass can cost an additional £130 and given that rent is cheaper the further from the city you’re based, this also become an essential outgoing. Even leisure activities are enough to break the bank, with a cinema ticket costing around £12, the average pint £4 (the most expensive in the country), and the average kebab costing as much as £8.38.
With tuition fees rising annually and cuts to student finance meaning grants have become loans, the financial burden of university has never been greater.
Chief Executive of Future Finance Brian Norton, said: “These statistics are truly shocking. Everyone deserves the chance to fulfill their dreams through higher education.”
He explained that credit cards and payday loans were partly responsible for causing this stress by imposing extortionate rates on students.
“And it’s not just hitting their wallets, it’s now also damaging their health,” he added.
“We urgently need the British government and the universities to help inform students about their lending options, and give them the support framework they so desperately need through their educational journey.”