From education to employment

1 in 5 young adults re-think plans to attend university due to cost of living crisis

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The Open University (OU) has published new research revealing that 32 per cent of young adults (a survey of 1,000 18-24 year-olds) are already feeling the effects of inflation to a great extent, with bills, food prices and petrol prices among the cost increases which impact them most.

The study also found that 35 per cent of those polled have had to rethink their career plans because of the cost-of-living crisis, while a shocking 31 per cent fear they will struggle to afford food.

More than half plan on taking extra courses in a bid to better their skillset and knowledge. As a result of the crisis, 36 per cent are now worried they will never be able to afford their own home.

A fifth of those polled are rethinking their plans to go to university, while 18 per cent have sought help from a food bank. Other things young adults have had to cut down on or stop completely include nights out with friends, getting takeaways and even booking holidays. 23 per cent are worried about what the future holds, with 55 per cent are more determined than ever before to get a job that pays well.

Martin Upton, a Senior Lecturer in Business at The Open University said:

“Everyone is feeling the pinch, but people might not realise just how much it is affecting the younger generation. Although financial anxiety is at an all-time high for all, it’s particularly difficult for young people since they are making vital decisions at a crucial point in their lives. It is a shame to hear so many are rethinking their plans for university study.

“Now is a better time than ever to be investing in your career and getting that all important job that pays well. Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that having a UK university degree adds £100k or more on average to lifetime net earnings. So, despite the financial uncertainty that young people are facing, and while higher education seems like a big financial commitment, in the long run it will pay off.”

Those who are considering investing in their careers to safeguard their financial futures have until 8th September to register for a course that is of interest at the Open University.

Martin adds: “You could be studying and planning for a better future by October – your future is open.”

Top reasons for the cost-of-living crisis putting young people off going to university include worries of getting into debt they can’t afford to pay back, not knowing how they will work and study at the same time and wanting to go straight into a full-time job so they can be paid.

Further insights on how cost of living is affecting attitudes to higher education* revealed that nine per cent are intending to postpone or delay any study plans due to the current financial uncertainty, whilst 12 per cent are now considering less expensive courses.

It also emerged that while seven per cent don’t believe money can buy you happiness, 14 per cent think they would need to be earning at least £35,000 a year to live comfortably. On top of this, a third said a job that pays well is more important to them than having a job they are happy in.

But of those who took part in the survey, 53 per cent think a well-paid job is harder to find in this day and age.

The Open University offers flexible learning, meaning you can fit your studies around a full-time job, earning whilst you are learning. More than 80% of OU students in England don’t pay anything upfront for their degrees, financing these through a student loan. So, if you’re thinking of furthering your education, now is the time to do so.


  1. Cut down / stop going on nights out with friends
  2. Reduce / stop getting takeaways
  3. Budget their spending
  4. Stop visiting home to save on travel
  5. Scrap or postpone plans to go to university
  6. Use foodbanks
  7. Get a job
  8. Move back to their parents
  9. Get a second job
  10. Eat out less
  11. Increase working hours in their current job
  12. Watch their energy usage so bills aren’t high
  13. Stop treating themselves
  14. Stop buying coffee from a coffee shop
  15. Buy fewer clothes
  16. Buy supermarket ‘own brand’ products
  17. Shop in cheaper supermarkets
  18. Walk instead of driving to places
  19. Stop buying presents for friends/family, e.g for birthdays or baby showers
  20. Buy secondhand clothes
  21. Stop booking holidays
  22. Use vouchers/coupons and deals to save money
  23. Sell belongings, e.g. clothes, homeware and technology
  24. Buy a rail card to save on travel
  25. Use public transport
  26. Defer going back to university later this year
  27. Cut any TV subscriptions e.g. Netflix
  28. Stop any sporting activities
  29. Get an extra housemate to help pay for bills
  30. Sell their car

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