UK students face multiple jobs and even food bank visits in the next academic year as rising inflation erodes the value of loans and grants.
A fifth of students say they will have to take two jobs when universities restart from September, according to a survey of 1,500 students by recruitment site Breakroom. The maintenance loans that students can apply for from the government will be the lowest in real terms for seven years, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies.
“We hear of students working multiple jobs to make ends meet, who can’t even afford to go to the college library, and who cut back on food preparation due to rising energy costs,” said a national spokesperson. said by email. “Our research has shown that thousands more trust food banks and buy now, repay loans later.”
While students have always had to make do, rising inflation is hitting them particularly hard because maintenance loans are fixed as the cost of living rises. Most won’t be compensated for the kind of pay raises that people in full-time jobs are asking for.
This is yet another example of how those who survive on the least amount of money will be hardest hit by rising food and energy prices. The UK government, currently embroiled in a battle to choose the next prime minister, is under pressure to increase support for low-income households or risk rising poverty.
University students in England can apply for a living expenses loan calculated on the basis of family income and their intention to live at home during their studies. The maximum loan for people from low-income families studying in London is currently $15,000.
Costs are also rising for those attending university outside the capital, as items such as rent and food, where inflation hits hardest, make up the bulk of student spending. Aminah Memon, a student at Oxford University, worked all summer to see if she needed to top up her loan and the scholarship she receives for being from a low-income household.
The government has “continued to increase cost-of-living support for students from the poorest households each year since the start of the pandemic, and they now have access to the largest amounts in cash,” said one. government spokesperson. the Ministry of Education.
There are already signs that rising costs are changing behavior. Education charity UCAS said it has recorded a drop in the distances students plan to travel to get to higher education, indicating that many are choosing to stay at home. Clare Marchant, who runs the charity, is concerned that many would-be students are dropping out of higher education.
Olivia Gilbert, who is starting a postgraduate degree in the capital in September, says she is considering babysitting during the day and working in the evenings in bars and nightclubs.
“Trying to fit in with my studies and take care of myself in general is going to be very difficult and will definitely have a negative impact on my academic abilities,” Gilbert said. “I never had to work two jobs before this.”