UK Students Skipping Meals Because Of Cost Of Living Crisis
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Shocking new research has revealed that students in the UK are skipping meals and relying on hardship funds due to the cost of living crisis.
One in four students also revealed they are in danger of dropping out of university, with the research carried out for the Sutton Trust finding that nearly 25% of the 1,000 UK students interviewed saying they were ‘less likely’ to be able to complete their degree because of money worries, while one third from working class families said they were cutting down on food to save money.
Although just under half of students said they had approached their families for extra help, many from disadvantaged or poorer backgrounds said they were less likely or unable to do so, reports the Guardian.
In an interview, one student revealed they were eating just two meals a day, spending less on food shopping and working part-time to pay their bills, despite receiving a full maintenance loan and bursary from their university.
They told researchers: “The cost of living crisis is making me worried and stressed as I’ve now had to sacrifice my study time to get a job to support my financial needs.
“Balancing all-day university clinical placements and working is impacting my academics. I come from a low-income household so I haven’t got the ability to ask my family for financial support.”
Another student said they had asked their university for hardship funds, but the process had added to their stress: “The application required several months of bank statements, as well as letters from student finance, as evidence of my entitlement.
“I had to wait almost a month for a response. I was fortunate to receive some money, however it’s not a system I could trust if I needed support in an emergency.”
“Now more than ever, I feel that the government are expecting parents and families to help support students and young people. This is not an option for me.”
Sir Peter Lampl, chair of the Sutton Trust, which campaigns to improve social mobility through education, described the situation as ‘scandalous’.
“To make sure that students can afford to fully take part in their course and wider university life, the Sutton Trust is calling for the government to urgently review the amount of funding and support available to students,” he said.
Currently, students in England will be paid an increase of 2.8% in their maintenance loans if they continue studying in September, a rise of about £200. The Welsh government has said it will increase maintenance loans and grants for its students by more than 9%.
A spokesperson for England’s Department for Education said: “We recognise students continue to face financial challenges, which is why we are increasing loans and grants for living and other costs for a further year.
“To support universities to top up their own hardship funds we are also making an additional £15m available. This will bring the total available to universities to draw on in supporting their students in hardship to £276m this academic year.”
However, the Sutton Trust highlighted that £41m of that £276m was reserved for the disabled students’ pupil premium, with the remainder designated ‘to support successful student outcomes’ including widening participation and outreach activities, meaning it is unlikely that it will be put towards hardship funds, and that the ‘additional £15m’ amounts to just £67 for each undergraduate from the most deprived parts of England.
Labour’s shadow higher education minister, Matt Western, said: “The scale of the crisis has been building for months after the Conservatives crashed the economy, yet ministers have failed to take the action necessary to support students.”
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