The National Student Accommodation Survey 2018 has revealed how the stresses of high rent and poor living conditions are affecting student’s stress levels and mental health.
The survey polled 2,246 UK based students between the 1st and 14th February. Of those surveyed, 45% reported that the cost of accommodation impacts mental health. This correlates with the shocking fact that 44% of students struggle to keep up payments with their rent. 31% reported that their studies are affected by these rent and mental health difficulties.
“I physically don’t get enough in my loan to cover my rent, it’s definitely stressful”
Emily Richardson, 2nd year student at Newcastle University
These statistics highlight clear issues with the expense of rent and how students cope with the pressure of high rent and living costs. The organisers of the survey, Save the Student, suggest that a support strategy can be useful, and provide advice on their website about securing additional funding. Some extra funding, such as bursaries and scholarships, aren’t available to everyone so are not always an option.
The survey estimated the national average for student rent in the UK to be £130.59 per week. Compared to the average student finance maintenance loan payment of £138.85 a week, this leaves many students with just £8 a week to cover all other living costs.
Average rent in the North East comes in at £105 a week, and living costs are significantly cheaper than other areas of the country.
However, the hardships felt by many students at Newcastle still line up with the survey’s findings.
Emily Richardson, a second year English Literature and History student who lives in West Jesmond said: “I can barely pay my rent. Rent for us is like £360 a month, but then you don’t think about bills which add up to £50 a month as well. I physically don’t get enough in my loan to cover my rent, it’s definitely stressful.”
Financial support for students at Newcastle can be accessed through the NUSU Student Advice Centre
More than a third of students in the survey complained about not getting value for money from their accommodation.
The quality of student housing can have severe consequences, as Georgia Corbett, a second year Classics and Philosophy student discovered in her Spital Tongues rental house.
She said: “I got gas poisoned due to my landlord’s negligence. I pay £75 rent a week and had to pay a £300 gas bill because of the gas leak.
“My mental health issues are exasperated by all the problems. It makes me feel anxious and uncomfortable in my home and hopeless because my landlord is condescending and unhelpful.
“I literally could have died. I need to be close to campus because I am really crippled by my mental health, so I have to put up with it.”
Financial support for students at Newcastle can be accessed through the NUSU Student Advice Centre, or the university’s Student Finance Advisors and Student Financial Support Fund. These services can provide advice, support and additional funds for students struggling to cope with day-to-day costs of university life.
University-based mental health support can be accessed through Wellbeing services, personal tutors, the NUSU advice centre, the Nightline helpline or by contacting the Welfare and Equality Officer.
See the full survey results at https://www.savethestudent.org/accommodation/national-student-accommodation-survey-2018.html