New research by Save the Student has found that the average student’s monthly living costs have risen by 17% since 2022, from £924 to £1,078.
Below-inflation increases in the Maintenance Loan now mean it falls short of living costs by an average of £582 per month, up from £439 per month in 2022 with 18% of students surveyed used a food bank in the last academic year, up from 10% in 2022
A further 64% said they skip meals at least some of the time to save money. Broken down, this includes 22% who said they often skip meals, while a further 42% sometimes do.
Tom Allingham, Save the Student’s Communications Director, said “This is the most troubling set of results we’ve ever seen in the National Student Money Survey.”
“It’s clear from these findings that students have been hit particularly hard by the cost of living crisis, experiencing a rate of inflation of up to 17%. And, while Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all tried to ensure funding keeps pace with costs, England has not. As a result, the average Maintenance Loan now falls short of living costs by £582 per month, or almost £7,000 per year.”
“This is a dereliction of duty from the government, plunging huge swathes of students into food poverty. Around two-thirds are skipping meals at least some of the time, and 18% used a food bank in 2022/23 – close to double the figure from the previous year.”
“Clearly, the problem is getting worse, not better, and the government urgently needs to do more. The £276 million of ‘hardship funding’ supplied through the Office for Students is actually less than pre-pandemic levels, and it’s barely scratching the surface.”
“Save the Student is calling on the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, to increase the Maintenance Loan to catch up with inflation, and avoid driving thousands more students into financial turmoil.”
In response to the survey, Kellie McAlonan, Chair of the National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA), said “It is particularly alarming to see how the findings this year compare to last year. Monthly costs have risen considerably, adding to an already significant gap between student funding income and living costs.”
“The system is broken when our students start their journey needing to address a gap in funding, leading many to stretch themselves with working hours that inevitably impact their student experience. Long gone are the days when students are young school leavers, living near campus only during term time, with manageable part time work hours, and the safety net of parents. We need a system that recognises the diversity of students and properly addresses their needs, many of whom are mature, parents themselves, or without family to support them”.
“The survey shows the majority of respondents skipping meals to survive, which is a particularly worrying trend. This, along with food bank use among students being on the rise, makes it clear the systems in place are not fit for purpose. The government need to consider that struggling to fund basic living costs is a reality for many students, and it isn’t good enough.”
“Core funding packages need to be good enough to support student success.”