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One in 10 students using foodbanks

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn
Posted:
Updated:
27/11/2023

The financial situation for UK students has been laid bare in the Student Money Survey 2022 – and things are looking bleak for undergraduates.

The survey by Save The Student found that students are experiencing higher inflation than the national average, with record-breaking shortfalls between average maintenance loans and living costs.

The survey found that student living costs have seen a 14% increase since the 2021 survey, with the average student now spending £924 a month. In London, the average is £1,089 a month. Rent is by far the biggest monthly expense, accounting for about 45% of monthly living costs.

In the 2021 survey, 10 of the 12 UK regions had average student living costs of £800 a month or less. However, this year, each region’s average is above £800. The cheapest region for students is the West Midlands, which has average monthly living costs of £822.

The South West of England and London are the most expensive parts of the UK for students; these have risen to £962 and £1,089 a month respectively.

The two areas of spending that have increased the most for students are transport and household bills.

The government has announced that the average household’s energy bills will be capped at £2,500 a year, for two years, from October. However, this is nearly double what households were paying last year.

The research found that the average student’s maintenance loan falls short of covering their living costs by £439 every month, prompting one in 10 students to have used a foodbank in the past year.

One student told the survey: “I go for multiple days without food to be able to afford my rent.”

According to Save The Student, the average student receives £149.80 per month from their parents. But even when you combine the average student’s maintenance loan and parental contributions, this still leaves a shortfall of £289.20 every month.

More than half think of dropping out

More than eight in 10 (82%) students worry about making ends meet, up from 76% that said the same in last year’s survey. More than half (52%) reported that they have thought about dropping out of university due to money worries.

Jake Butler, Save the Student’s money expert, said: “This is the most worried I’ve ever been about the financial situation students are facing. In a decade of running the National Student Money Survey, this year’s findings are bleak. And we expect much worse is yet to come.

“The huge £439 monthly shortfall between Student Loans and real living costs is particularly alarming. Most students are struggling to bridge this gap. And it’s not fair in this climate for the government to ‘expect’ parents to contribute such a high amount.

“Students were neglected throughout the pandemic and it appears that treatment continues with the cost of living crisis. Inflation for students could be as high as 14%, yet government funding in England has only risen by 2.3%.”

A study by interactive investor last month also found that students face a rise in living costs far in excess of the small increase in support from maintenance loans.

With these costs in mind, at the end of August, YourMoney.com published a guide to student savings.