Cost of living crisis: Concerns over impact on students

Posted: 17th June 2022

Saeda Dahab is among the young people who say the cost of living crisis has made them anxious about their future.

Universities have seen many students reporting mental health or anxiety issues caused by financial pressures.

The government has said that support is available to those who need extra help and more is being done.

But Seada, 16, from Southampton, said it has become harder to think about the future while “stressing about the present”.

She said the rising costs were a worry for children as much as for parents.

‘Growing up fast’

A few months ago she decided to find herself a job to help her mother, who is a single parent, cope with the rising bills.

“It feels quite stressful because you are going through a time in your life when you are learning and planning for your future but at the same time the present is quite hard,” she said.

“I feel like it’s just something that takes over your life… and makes you lose that motivation that you should have.”

In a bid to save money, she has also recently started to go out with her friends once a month instead of once a week.

Describing the impact, she said: “At times you feel like you are lonely and isolated because there’s no point in having friends if you are not able to hang out with them.”

The St Anne’s Catholic School pupil would like to go to university but she said she might have no choice but to do an apprenticeship instead.

University students like 19-year-old Angelica Kanu, who studies chemistry at the University of Oxford, are among those who say the current situation has caused them stress.

She has recently been told she does not qualify for any extra financial support despite being from a working class family that cannot help her financially.

The cost of food has become a worry for her in the past few months.

“Every single day is just a battle of being as cheap as possible,” she said.

“It’s just like a constant circle, when in reality I should be focussing on my uni work. I just feel like money just takes too much of a toll on how I am living my life at university.”

Increased demand

Vaios Koukouletsos, the president of the students’ union at Solent University in Southampton, said more students have recently been asking for information about food banks and food vouchers.

The number of students at the University of Reading applying for hardship funds has also gone up, with 305 of 484 applications being successful so far in the current academic year.

This is an increase from before the pandemic when 124 and 156 applications were made in 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively.

Matt Daley, the university’s head of student financial support and customer service, said almost every application described mental health or anxiety issues caused by financial struggles.

Many also stated they were unable to get support from their families.

“There’s a lot of anxiety about being able to afford things,” Mr Daley said.

“My main concern is that students won’t complete their studies. We don’t want them to leave because of money.”

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-61760234

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