A month has passed since Freshers’ Week and as student’s first bout of bills and rent is taken out of their bank accounts, many may realise that the cost of living at university is higher than they first envisaged.
According to new research conducted by Epson, more than two thirds (66%) of 18-19 year olds will find the cost of living at university much higher than they first expected. There has been a noticeable increase in the cost of student living at Newcastle University this year.
The opening of Park View Student Village, Newcastle University’s new student accommodation built to replace Richardson Road (commonly known as Ricky Road) which was demolished in 2016 is an example of such rising costs. A standard en-suite at Park View is £134.33 per. week, whereas three years ago a standard bedroom in Ricky Road was £89 per. week. This shows an increase of over 50% with no plans for new affordable accommodation to be built in the works.
Some students turn to part-time or Christmas temp. jobs to financially support themselves at university and those who already have part-time jobs take on extra hours. An increase in time students spend working to break even frequently has the knock-on effect of taking time away from students which would otherwise have been spent on their studies. Epson found that 38% of students say they experience reduced academic productivity as a result of working too much. As well as part-time jobs or extra hours, students also reportedly skip meals, sell their possessions, take part in medical trials, gamble and sell drugs in an attempt to break even at university. Yet, 51% still say that they struggle to cover their living expenses. But it is not only time spent at work that is to blame for a poorer performance. Mental-health issues caused or made worse by money worries can also seriously affect students and stop them from reaching their full academic potential.
NUS’ 2016 study funded by Future Finance, looked into the ways financial worries affects the mental health of many students. 64% said they worry about their finances all the time or often, with a further 36% worrying about their finances so much that it negatively affects their mental health. NUS also found that despite so many students experiencing financial problems at university, a significant majority (74%) say that they would not drop out of university as a result of their financial problems. They cited the value that they place on their education and the positive affect they believe it will have on their lives after university as their reasons for remaining in at university, in spite of financial problems.