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'I'm still nearly £1000 in debt excluding tuition fees...' Poll says the Cost-Of Living Crisis has British students at breaking point.

A student has spoken of how she was left suicidal after the cost-of-living crisis left her in a desperate situation, surviving off “beef paste sandwiches”.


March 2023 saw inflation reach 10.1% and with that, the release of the Sutton Trust’s latest poll.


Commissioned for the BBC, it explores the impact the cost-of-living crisis had on students and according to the polling, about 49% of undergraduate students have missed classes during this academic year in order to do paid work, with 23% reporting that they have missed a deadline or asked for an extension in order to work. 


Macy, an ex- student who dropped out of university last year reiterated these concerns by stating: ‘Once I had paid £1,700 a term rent, I couldn’t really afford much more…The last semester I had to borrow £100 off my nana to pay rent for fear of being kicked out’. 


Rising costs have meant students are less engaged with their studies whilst also cutting back on non-essential costs such as socialising, making students isolated and less likely to continue with the academic year. 63% of students surveyed had spent less on food and essentials and 47% of students had stopped or reduced going out socially to save money for bills or food.


Students have felt the increase in their rent, with Macy describing being ‘so utterly broke’ at university during the cost-of-living crisis. Later resorting to shoplifting meal deals and energy drinks to survive as her father couldn’t afford to keep sending over money. 


Regarding her mental health, Macy stated: ‘It made me feel so trapped and I turned to other coping mechanisms’. After being alone and unable to afford trains back to her hometown of Huddersfield to see friends and family for so long, she attempted suicide.


The Sutton Trust’s polls show, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, that 24% are saying they’re less likely to continue their degree/course and whilst bursaries are available, the application process is lengthy, causing reluctance to apply.


Student loans barely covered essentials even though Macy received the maximum student loan, yet the government confirmed that student maintenance loans will only increase by 2.8%. This means students are getting over £1,500 less than they would have if the loan increased with inflation.


The Sutton Trust calls for the return of maintenance grants and to review funding available for students with ‘more funding from the government to go to universities for hardship funds’.


In the UK, if you or someone you know is struggling,

Samaritans can be contacted for free by calling 116 123 or emailing [email protected]

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