cost of living crisis
The UK hosted 605,130 international students for the 2020-21 academic term. As that number increases, here are five ways to deal with the country's cost of living crisis. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

Let’s face it: the cost of living crisis in the UK is making things expensive for international students. The country’s inflation rate has hit a 40-year high of 10.1% and you’re likely feeling the crunch as you pay for your food, rent and utilities.

The numbers paint a clearer picture: studying in the UK is getting more expensive. notes that students must demonstrate that they have 1,023 pounds to 1,334 pounds per month to sustain themselves financially throughout their time studying in and out of London. Figures from the National Student Money Survey 2021 show that over three-quarters of students struggle to make ends meet and 76% of students considered dropping out.

That’s not all. The Bank of England forecasts that UK’s inflation rate could pass 13% in October. On top of that, energy prices will jump 80% to an average of 3,549 pounds a year from October, according to Reuters. Fortunately, Save the Student has suggested immediate steps that you can take to cope with the cost of living crisis:

cost of living crisis

If you plan to study within London, you’ll need to budget considerably, at least 1,265 pounds per month. Source: Leon Neal/AFP

Cost of living crisis: 5 ways for international students to cope

1. Contact your university about hardship funds

Hardship funds are emergency cash supplies universities give to students with money problems. It’s up to them to approve and decide the amount you will receive. These funds are usually paid in a lump sum or instalments. 

Contact the student services department to decide if you qualify for these funds. Most universities require you to show copies of your bank statements or financial details about your rent and utility bills. 

2. Ask for a pay rise at your part-time job

For students who are working part-time, try asking your employers if your earnings could increase in line with the inflation rate. Pay attention to the minimum wage in the UK. states those aged 23 and over are entitled to be paid 9.50 pounds an hour.

3. Seek out scholarships, bursaries, and grants

Check your university’s website to see if you are eligible for extra funding in the form of scholarships, bursaries, and grants. Some universities also offer a discount on tuition fees for international students.

If you are considering studying in the UK, do keep an eye out when applications for fully-funded scholarships open. For example, the Chevening Scholarship application cycle for the 2023-24 academic term has just opened. The scholarship funds students to pursue their master’s within the country and you get a monthly living allowance.

There are also scholarships for refugees and displaced students.

cost of living crisis

Preparing your meals and shopping at the right supermarket helps you to reduce your expenses. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

4. Prepare your meals

Thanks to the cost of living crisis, food prices have gone up. Planning your meals is a way to eat well without breaking the bank. You’re also less likely to pick up overpriced ready meals or buy food that you’ll struggle to use up before it expires. 

You can start by buying cheaper groceries through apps like Too Good to Go or OLIO. These apps aim to reduce food waste by offering fresh but unsold food at a discounted price. Consider going to supermarkets like Lidl and Asda if you want to do some heavy grocery shopping as they offer competitive prices. 

Recipes, like the ones on Save the Student, can help you decide what to cook on a budget. There are ideas to make breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for under three pounds per day. Or you could use it as a guideline to work out an ideal meal plan.

5. Set a budget

Need an example of a student who budgeted their way out of a financial crisis? Look no further. Aditi Paul worked a job on campus and survived on a budget of US$85 for six months when she lost her teaching assistantship as a PhD student in the US. 

Drawing your weekly budget doesn’t have to be complicated. With Notion, you can easily track your spending patterns by creating personalised tables to track your spending patterns and set budgeting goals.