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New Blackbullion report finds gender money gap widens for university students, as female students hardest hit by mental health impact of finances

Three students sat on a patch of grass, with a laptop

The gender money gap for students is widening at a significant rate, a new report from Blackbullion has found. Student Money & Wellbeing 2022 identifies a series of financial inequities emerging, with female students dependent on a 23% smaller average monthly budget than their male peers.

Student Money & Wellbeing 2022, a nationwide study of just over 1,000 UK students, found that 75% of students actively worry about finances, with 57% of those saying this negatively impacts their mental health, as the rising cost of living emerges as the key economic stressor for young people.

The money gap is widening between the genders

The new findings show that male students have an average monthly budget of £714, compared to their female peers, who, with £578 a month, have 23% less to spend. Since 2021, male students’ average monthly budgets have grown by 15%, while female students have seen an increase of just 3%. This means the monthly budget gap between genders has more than doubled within a year. 

And, while 47% of male students feel that the money they receive from Student Finance is enough to cover their costs (other than tuition fees), just 37% of female students feel the same.

The cost of living crisis is drastically impacting a monthly budget shortfall

Just 42% of students say the money they receive from Student Finance covers their living costs (including rent but excluding tuition fees). For many, this funding isn’t enough for their rent.

When asked, students believe they need an additional £395 each month to feel they can confidently complete their degrees – a 20% increase on 2021’s findings. This mirrors the rising cost of living emerging as the most acute concern for students, with 72% feeling very or somewhat worried about it. 62% of students are worried about Covid having a potential negative impact on their financial future.

Female students are hardest hit by the impact of money on mental health

The new report found that 80% of today’s female students worry about finances; 70% of male students feel the same. What’s more, 65% of female students saying they worry about finances report a negative impact on their mental health, compared to 47% of male students.

Digging deeper, 95% of students reporting a negative impact on their mental health experience money-related stress, with nearly two thirds (61%) saying this is on a regular basis. 87% of students in this group also suffer from anxiety, with over half (51%) experiencing money-related anxiety often. Around a third (31%) are regularly depressed because of money worries.

Student Money & Wellbeing 2022 shows how financial worries are filtering into other areas of student lives too. 71% of students who say that money worries negatively impact their mental health have feelings of isolation. 44% of students who worry about finances struggle to focus and study.

Female students play it safer with traditional money habits

Financial inequities play out into money behaviours across both genders, 50% of female students surveyed relying on financial support from their caregivers, compared to just 37% of males.

Despite female students being 18% more likely to track their spending, their male counterparts are almost twice likely to invest in stocks and shares, and four times more likely to automate their investments. In the last year, 26% of male students surveyed have invested in cryptocurrency compared to 7% of female students.

The report also looks at how financial education sources could be shaping money habits and confidence across the genders. 67% of female students learn about money from their caregivers, compared to just 48% of male students, who are nearly twice as likely to seek financial education from an internet forum than females. 33% of students use social media for financial education.

Female students are less optimistic about their financial futures

The money gap cuts into attitudes towards money too, with under half (48%) of the female students surveyed feeling confident about their financial futures compared to 59% of their male counterparts. We see this track into worries about their earning potential, with 58% of female students expressing anxiety compared to 49% of males and in terms of employment prospects, 57% of women are worried compared to 50% of men.

“The rapidly widening gender money gap is deeply concerning,” says Vivi Friedgut, CEO and founder of Blackbullion. “Throughout this report, female students emerge as consistently more exposed to financial pressures and impact. Combined with a lack of financial confidence, it seems female students are entrenched in a difficult money relationship that isn’t on their terms – from the outset. The question is, how do we close this gap?”

“In the midst of the cost of living crisis, and post-pandemic disruption, student finances demand urgent attention from government and institutions. HE providers have a unique opportunity to underpin the whole student experience with financial wellbeing, helping students develop lifelong skills and confidence for a positive financial future.”

A full copy of Blackbullion’s report is available here.

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