Nearly 300,000 Students Facing Cost-of-Living Hardship in the UK – Report

If financial support is not implemented, the cost-of-living crisis will have a serious impact on nearly 300,000 students, according to a recent estimate.

According to a report by MillionPlus, the UK’s organisation for modern universities, if the problems facing students are not resolved, there might be a crisis in student recruitment and retention.

The organisation applauded a slew of institutional actions to lessen the financial burden on the UK’s poorest students in its study, Learning with the lights off: students and the cost-of-living problem.

However, important suggestions have been made for the Scottish Student Awards Agency, the Office for Students, and the UK Government (SAAS).

It calls for immediate increases in student maintenance grants, hardship funding, and a stronger inclusion of students in broader cost-of-living assistance measures than those proposed in September.

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Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, chair of MillionPlus and vice-chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “While the cost-of-living crisis will affect students from all backgrounds, it is clear from this analysis that it will have the greatest impact on those students who were already facing significant cost pressures.

“MillionPlus universities understand these worries, having been at the forefront of the widening participation agenda over the last two decades.

“I am proud that this report outlines the innovative and direct measures they are taking to support at this challenging time.

“However, this risk can’t be averted by universities alone.”

According to Rachel Hewitt, CEO of MillionPlus, students come from a variety of backgrounds, which influences the kind of support needed.

She stated that in light of the tightening of household budgets, we must confront the myth that all students are 18 years old and able to rely on parental support.

The cost-of-living crisis poses a severe risk of driving mature students, those from low participation areas, first-generation students, and commuter students out of higher education and harming their prospects for the future.

Many of the aid programmes that the UK government has so far implemented do not target or apply to students in higher education.

Loans for maintenance have decreased to a level below the federal minimum wage since they have not increased at a rate that is even close to keeping up with inflation.

The UK Government runs the possibility of a student recruitment and retention crisis that might have a long-term negative impact on its own education and skills agenda if it does not address the financial issues that students will face this academic year.

The groups will host a side event during the SNP conference on Monday, where the higher education minister for the Scottish Government, Jamie Hepburn, will participate in a panel discussion.

The research, according to Mr. Hepburn, minister of higher education for Scotland, is extremely alarming and highlights how vital it is for the UK government to effectively solve the cost-of-living situation.

He said: “Most of the key policy levers needed to address the crisis still lie with the UK Government so we continue to urge them to use all the levers at their disposal to tackle this emergency on the scale required to meet the needs of people.” 

Mr. Hepburn cited the Scottish Government’s £16 million payment to colleges and universities for the current academic year in hardship funding to support students pursuing higher and further education who are experiencing financial hardship, as well as the payment of almost £3 billion to households to assist them in coping with the rising cost of living.

He added: “And just this week, the Scottish Parliament voted to pass The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Bill, which gives ministers temporary power to cap rents for private and social tenants, as well as for student accommodation.”

A spokesman for the Department of Education stated that they are aware of how household budgets are being squeezed by global inflationary pressures and how people are concerned about meeting their fundamental needs.

Every year, maintenance loans have been raised to help students with living expenses; as a result, disadvantaged students now have access to the biggest cash amounts ever.

Students who are concerned about their financial situation can talk to their university about the resources available to them.

Universities can increase their financial aid for hardship this year by utilising the up to £261 million we have made available through the Office for Students.

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