The student loan provided by the government does not sufficiently cover student living costs, a report by the National Union of Students claims.
Having researched the average amount of money required annually by students to live at university, the NUS argues that the government is not doing enough to minimise the shortfall.
According to the research, a student living outside of London this academic year will spend around £16,000 on their student lifestyle and receive around £8,000 in loans and grants as assistance. This remaining sum of money is 11% more than the shortfall of this time last year.
The NUS president Liam Burns expressed his concern that students who have no other means of financial support are left in a difficult situation as jobs are increasingly unavailable or provide insufficient wages.
“Yes there is a shortfall,” said second year student, Charlotte Johnson. “I would not be able to buy enough food for the coming year solely from the remainder of my student loan once my rent has been paid.”
Of the difficulties in the employment market, Charlotte said: “I’m finding it quite difficult as it seems everybody is looking for a job. Luckily, I am able to have some financial support from my parents for living costs.”
Second year maths student Ted Burke argued that the purpose of the loan has not been thoroughly considered:
“I get assistance from my parents when the loan isn’t enough but the loan isn’t intended to cover all your costs as a student, it is meant to be a support. For those students who can’t get financial support from their families or from work, there are grants available. I know someone who gets around £3000 extra from a grant .”
The NUS report suggests that students may need to seek support beyond their student loan. Vice President of Welfare, Frankie Fry, spoke to the Wessex Scene about her views on the issue:
“This is a massive concern – because of the increase students will potentially need to work extensively long hours in a part-time job to find their living costs, which is unacceptable and highly damaging for their degrees.
With particular reference to next year, having to pay £9,000 fees will mean that students are feeling the burden of debt even more, without the proper support to fund their studies. A university education is already expensive and, as a Students’ Union, we recognise that students have concerns about debt.
In these increasingly difficult times we realise that we need to take a tougher stanceFrankie FryVP Welfare
To help with this, SUSU provides free and confidential advice on financial issues to students through The Advice Centre, as well as running campaigns on money management throughout the year. However, in these increasingly difficult times we realise that we need to take a tougher stance.”
If any students would like to be involved in responding to concerns over financial support for students, they can contact Frankie Fry on firstname.lastname@example.org.