Thousands of university students to spend half of support grant on accommodation
12:00 24 August 2014
A new report has revealed thousands of students are forced to spend more than half of their support grant on accommodation.
Research conducted by The Money Charity looked into the minimum cost of university-owned accommodation and shows 28 per cent of universities charge fees that result in students from low-income backgrounds shelling out the majority of their income.
That figure rises to 42pc when considering London-based institutions alone, and even the cheapest UK accommodation leaves the poorest students with as little as £40 a week to survive, with some parents contributing up to £750 to keep their children afloat.
The report, published in the A-level results, may cause panic among freshers, so to allay their fears, the Recorder spoke to two uni students about how they coped in their first year.
Anglia Ruskin University student 19-year-old Melissa Robertson, of Romford, said: “It was really easy for me because my mum and my stepdad set me up in terms of money.
“I know a lot of people have to struggle with finances.
“My advice is to always look out for deals and pick up store brands when shopping. It might not be ideal but it will save you a lot of money.”
The study found that students who receive the largest maintenance grants are those from the lowest-income households and are less likely to receive support from their families.
“It means those students have get part-time jobs or credit – which can cause problems after graduating.
Royal Holloway student Hannah Bloxham, 19, of Romford, said: “In my first term at university I probably spent less because I was scared of spending money at all. In the second term I spent a lot more.
“I think the stress of managing and worrying about money, and setting up all the housing stuff is very difficult.”
The Money Charity is calling on the government and universities to make accommodation costs clearer, with the amount parents are expected to contribute.
Chief executive Michelle Highman said: “For almost all of the 360,000 new full-time undergraduate students each year, their first instalment of maintenance loan and grant will represent the single largest sum of money they have ever been responsible for.
“But if most of that money is gone on accommodation costs immediately after entering their account, they are being set up to fail.”
The charity is also pushing to make rent payments monthly, rather than by term –- as it is now – to help students manage their finances better.
Ms Highman added: “The way in which young people manage their money at university helps to shape their attitudes towards financial management throughout the rest of their life.
“We can’t expect students to become responsible savers, credit users and planners, if staying out of the red during university is impossible.”