Financial uncertainty disproportionately plaguing UK’s youngest adults has prompted nearly 60% of UK students to consider dropping out of college degrees.
While some students are expected to start returning or attending college for the first time this week, financial support and lobby group SavetheStudent has warned that more and more people are deeply concerned about their finances. won’t stand the pressure of these uncertain times.
“The fact that the majority of students have considered dropping out of college is an incredibly disappointing revelation, especially since the driving force is the lack of financial support,” says Jake Butler, Money Specialist at SavetheStudent.
“This must be a real wake-up call for the government and UK universities who simply cannot afford to see students dropping out en masse as they attempt to navigate an extremely uncertain future on their own. Students rely heavily on income from part-time jobs and their parents to get by, as maintenance loans do not reflect the true cost of student living.
Figures from the group suggest the average cost of living is £ 795 per month per student, and the average maintenance loan leaves a gap of £ 223 each month.
Three-quarters of students previously relied on part-time work to make up the difference – often in a now decimated hotel industry.
The latest survey of student finances from SilverSuperMarket suggests that a fifth of students turned to high-cost payday loans while in college to fill the gap.
The average graduate leaves university with £ 3,770 in debt, on top of his student loan, up from £ 3,561 in 2019. Two-thirds of UK’s newest graduates are worried about their financial security, according to the comparison site.
“I skip lunch every day in college just to save money and to be able to buy other things that I might need,” a Queen Mary student revealed. And others have taken dramatic action elsewhere. Up to 4 percent of students say they have turned to sex work to make ends meet, with up to 10 percent of the UK’s student body willing to consider it.
“With vital back-up sources at increasing risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of students this year may have no choice but to drop out of college or turn to other means of earning money such as sex work ”, adds Butler.
“Student funding must be the top priority for Universities Minister Michelle Donelan. Meanwhile, it’s more important than ever for students and parents to be aware of the financial pressures from the start, so they can plan and budget effectively.
For those who do not have a traditional support network, the situation is much worse.
The Unite Foundation, which provides financial, practical and emotional support to those entering college from the health care system or with distant families, has warned that this group is particularly at risk of dropping out during the current crisis and asked for this. that home study is meant to mean for those who don’t.
But while students feel that their financial situation makes studying impossible, their employment prospects are just as fragile, especially in the context of the end of the leave scheme next month.
New research by the Resolution Foundation think tank found that people in their early 20s – the generation that typically make up the bulk of hospitality and retail workers – are most likely to ” have been placed on leave, with one-fifth of all employees benefiting from the Job Retention Program (JRS) under the age of 25.
But because young workers earn the least on average, JRS expenses have been distributed more evenly across different age groups. The average 47-year-old man on leave received the most, at £ 1,400, at JRS.
Of the £ 71.5 billion in crisis income support this year, provided through JRS, the Self-Employed Income Support Program and the Boost to universal credit, people in their early 30s and late 40s received the most support overall – at £ 10.2 billion for each age group.
The circumstances surrounding this year’s college cohort, amid large financial bailouts for some but not for others, have reignited calls for the government to review the broader financial support available to students, including including calls to return to the fully funded education system that has benefited older workers and retirees. .
“Education is a right that students should have free access to from cradle to grave, especially since without education one cannot find suitable employment and the cycle of poverty continues,” argues Sara Khan. of the National Union of Students.