UK: Students struggle to afford food, books and transport - NUS
Not being able to afford basic necessities drive poorer students to drop out. Source: Shutterstock

UK students’ finances are in “desperate” shape, with a new research by the National Union of Students Extra (NUS Extra) revealing many worry about having enough money to afford essential groceries, and other basic costs such as travel and books.

Close to half of Britain’s students say they are concerned about only having an average weekly food spend of GBP24.32 (US$31.32) and having to bear travel costs of GBP17.35 (US$17.35)  a week, according to the online survey of nearly 2,000 students, The Guardian reported.

“Not only are university students forced to take on an enormous debt burden from the moment they begin studying, they are also given insufficient support to survive throughout their studies,” NUS Extra president Shakira Martin said.

The majority of students (71 percent) reported being stressed and anxious about their finances. Many (50 percent) turn to work during term time to support themselves while close to a quarter (23 percent) resort to overdrafts.

The findings come before the NUS Extra poverty commission to study barriers in the access of education for those from working-class background which will launch this week. The commission will recommend changes to government policy.

Martin says these high costs cause those from deprived backgrounds to drop out.

“Rising living costs affect the poorest students the most, forcing those at university to take out bigger loans which means they now leave with the highest levels of debt: up to GBP57,000 (US$73,416).

“With the situation as it is, we can never achieve equality in this country. The education system is in urgent need of change.”

NUS Extra’s findings come in the wake of a recent 2017 National Student Money Survey which found more of Britain’s students are resorting to participating in drug trials, gambling and adult work (such as sex or sex-related activities) to support their finances.

Half of those surveyed claimed mental health issues because of their financial worries, with another 42 percent claiming this then adversely impacted their relationships with friends and family.

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