From education to employment

70% students worried about money, as cost of living bites

Poll finds students ambivalent to PM’s plans to crack down on ‘low-value’ courses, but concerned that Government is not sufficiently focussed on the real issues.

A new poll of students’ views, published today (Friday 4 August 2023) by market research consultancy Cibyl, has found that 70% say they worry about money at least a few times every week, with 39% saying they worry about money every day.

The survey, of over 670 current students and recent graduates, found that the increased cost of living has had a significant impact on student behaviour in a number of ways:

  • Rising costs are causing many students to miss lectures – 25% of students said they have missed lectures to cut back on travel costs. 
  • 43% are avoiding using heating or electricity at home to reduce energy bills and 62% say they are missing out on social events. 
  • Many students are working more hours to increase their income. 44% said they have either started a job or are working more hours to earn more money. 
  • Some students are taking on additional debt: 28% of students have taken on additional borrowing outside of student loans, either from banks or credit cards. 
  • Students from ethnic minorities are more likely to have money concerns. 49% of Black and Asian students worry about money every day compared to 35% of White students.
  • The cost of living is affecting where students will move on graduation. Nearly a fifth say they are more likely to move back home when they graduate but another 40% say they are more likely to move anywhere for a job.

The survey also asked students about the Government’s plans to cap applications to degree courses with poor outcomes. It revealed an even split:

  • One third of students thought it was a bad idea, with many saying they thought that the Government was focused on the wrong issue. “Not the real issue,” said one student. “Tuition fees and the cost of living are bigger issues for students that the government should be tackling,” said another.
  • A third agree with the government’s plans to cap the number of students on courses with poor graduate earning and employment outcomes.  “It is a good move. Education courses should be good quality, to make the time and money spent on those to be worth [it] for both the learners and educators”, commented one student.
  • A third think were undecided or had no opinion. 

Those were not supportive of the proposals were concerned they could limit access for prospective students. One student said: “It feels like it will reduce access to higher education, which will in turn unfairly limit the employability of some young people”.

Simon Martin, CEO Group GTI, said: “The Cost of Living crisis is clearly causing additional strains on study. We’re also worried it will impact career development activity, particularly for those from lower socio economic backgrounds.  Well before the crisis, we saw a positive trend in universities developing integrated support across careers, student wellbeing and financial advice and think this will continue.” 

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