Students in England have been skipping meals, attending lectures remotely and taking on more debt in a bid to cope with rising living costs, new data shows.
The Office for National Statistics found that the proportion of students at English universities affected by the crisis is similar to that of other adults across the UK as a whole, with more than nine in ten reporting that their spending had increased.
Half of the students said they were experiencing financial difficulties, and 15% said they had major money problems.
More than three quarters of students (77%) said they were worried that the rising cost of living could affect how well they do in their studies.
Read more: What support is available to students?
They reported skipping meals, not attending course-related events, and attending lectures remotely to try to save money.
About 25% of students also said they had borrowed more money or used credit more than usual.
Of those taking on more debt, two-thirds (66%) said they did so because their student loans weren’t enough to cover living expenses.
Almost half (45%) said their mental health and well-being had deteriorated since the start of the autumn term.
The students were also asked if they would be able to ask a family member for money. Almost half (48%) said they would be able to do it, but the same proportion (48%) said they would not be able to do it for one reason or another.
But ONS also found that the majority of students had not applied for financial assistance from the university. Only 16% had applied for a grant, and 7% to the university’s higher education fund.
Students can apply to educational foundations and charities for smaller funds – and organizations such as Turn2Us, Family action and Online funds have searchable online databases of grants.
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Data may not tell the whole story
Today’s statistics are experimental – meaning they may not tell the whole story.
The survey was the first official research of its kind and was based on the views of just over 4,000 students.
A third (34%) of students said they were now less likely to continue in education once they had completed the course.
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How worried are the students?
One in five (19%) had considered pausing the course and resuming it next year, with the same number (19%) saying they were considering switching from classroom-based to distance learning in a bid to save on transport costs.
However, the proportion of students who actively planned to take these actions was significantly lower. Only 1% of students planned to pause the course and resume it next year, while 2% planned to switch from classroom to distance learning. Only 6% planned to move back to their family home and commute to university from there.
Only 2% of students said they were unlikely or extremely unlikely to continue with the course.