Students are skipping in-person classes and taking on new debt in response to the cost-of-living crisis, according to official statistics suggesting rising prices are dividing young people’s college experiences.
Figures published on Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics show that 91 per cent of higher education students in England this month were concerned about the cost of living, while 77 per cent feared financial pressures would negatively affect their studies.
With UK inflation at 11.1 per cent, rising housing costs and tight government spending limiting support for students, the numbers suggest the financial tightness is undermining their educational experiences and achievements.
Chloe Field, vice president of the National Union of Students, said students were “ignored” by the government. Student living expenses loans, the main form of government support, rose just 2.3 per cent outside London this year to £9,706 a year.
Only a fifth of students in the ONS grades said they were doing well financially, while 35 percent said they had minor and 15 percent major financial problems. Another 29 percent said it was just about managing.
The numbers also showed that some students’ learning was more impacted than others, with 29 percent skipping non-mandatory lectures or tutorials to cut costs. A similar proportion study more at home or attend lectures at a distance instead of traveling to university.
A quarter had taken on new debt or used more credit, in most cases because their student loans did not cover living expenses. Nearly one-fifth of students said they had considered moving home because of the financial tightness, although a much smaller number were actively planning to do so.
Sophie Pender, the founder of the 93% Club, an association of state-educated students, said the data suggested education could become more divided, with some students studying in libraries, living near campuses and joining of sports teams, while others fall short. living space without time to study.
“We are in dangerous territory,” she said. “How can we ever have a thriving UK where access to university, and the enjoyment of it, depends on the money we have behind us rather than the brains we have in our heads?”
The ONS figures, based on a survey of more than 4,200 college students between Oct. 24 and Nov. 7, also showed that college students reported being less happy than adults.
Students gave their satisfaction an average of 5.9, compared to 6.8 for the general population. However, the average satisfaction was only slightly lower than for all 16-29 year olds.
Steve West, president of Universities UK, representing providers, said students risked becoming “the forgotten group” in the cost of living crisis. He urged the government to “provide targeted funding for hardships” to prevent the cost of living from becoming so high that students are no longer able to study.
Universities offered support, including offering cheap meals, increasing hardship funding or freezing accommodation prices, he added.