Survival of the richest: Rising costs are collapsing studies

4 mins read

The cost-of-living crisis is detrimentally affecting people globally. Food inflation on items such as bread and milk remain high at 14.9 per cent, forcing people to make sacrifices on their weekly shop. 

Students are being hit especially hard during this time as the government is failing to increase loans adequately. According to the National Union of Students (NUS) “one in four regularly go without food and other necessities”. 

According to academic Thomas Richardson, there is a strong connection between financial problems and depression. On top of their studies, students shouldn’t have to worry about making ends meet.

NUS Scotland have reported that “many students are at a financial breaking point.” On top of that, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s data supports NUS’s findings, confirming that students are skipping meals, not seeing friends, and 11 per cent are using food banks to survive. 

Image Credit: Edinburgh Food Project

Even before the cost-of-living crisis, students told NUS Scotland that they were worried about money and relied on credit cards and foodbanks to get by. 

It isn’t surprising that student rent is among the affected, with there being an 8.3 per cent increase in student hall rent this year alone. To keep up with costs, the majority of students are forced to work alongside their studies. 

One in five work more than 20 hours a week. 64 per cent of those who do work said it negatively impacted their studies according to the NUS.  

University students are also concerned about paying off their debts when they graduate. According to the NUS, 43 per cent of students surveyed regularly worry about student loan repayments. 

Recently the government lowered the earning threshold of when student debt would be repaid. The amount students repay is dependent on their annual salary. 

Only when your income is above the repayment threshold, do you begin paying off your loan.   The threshold has dropped by nearly £3,000. 

The term for repayment has also been extended to 40 years according to Save the Student. Meaning that 52 per cent of all borrows after September 2023 are expected to repay their loans in full, compared with only 23 per cent currently. Many students will be paying for their degree until retirement.

Image Credit: NUS

Summarised well by NUS Scotland President, Ellie Gomersall, “For several years now, the cost of living – particularly student rent – has significantly increased while student support payments have simply not caught up. 

“The Scottish Government needs to act urgently and bring forward their commitment to increase financial support for all students in line with the Real Living Wage, along with a comprehensive system of rent controls covering all student housing so that students never again need to skip meals just to keep a roof over their heads.”

With the cost-of-living crisis not going away any time soon, survival is the aim for many. Quality of life has been forgotten about and our government is yet again deemed negligent. More needs to be done.

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Third-year Journalism student at the University of Stirling.

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