“Hidden” university costs mean that working-class students are having to resort to multiple jobs, loan sharks and pay day loans in order to get through university.
In addition to tuition and rent, students are required to cover hundreds of pounds of unexpected costs, for compulsory course materials, resources and trips that had not previously been made clear.
Shakira Martin, NUS president said: “It’s a scandal that students pay so much to get into education, only to arrive and find they have to fork out more and more cash in order to simply take part in core course activities.”
Mandatory trips and travel costs are some of the unexpected costs faced by students. Nursing students are having to pay more than £100 a year on laundry costs for their uniforms on placements.
The new NUS briefing has been released to encourage student unions across the UK to campaign for funds from universities to cover these unexpected costs. It is argued that universities and colleges should cover these costs and be clear with students about the extra fees for resources and activities to ensure wellbeing for working-class students.
Miss Martin further stated that working-class students are having to take on multiple jobs to fund their education, and in some cases are forced to turn to sex work, payday loans and loan sharks.
Pressure to cover these costs is having negative effects on students’ studies and mental health, reflected in the number of working-class students who drop out of university. Official figures show that those from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to give up their university courses within 12 months than their more advantaged peers.
Data from The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows that at some universities, more than 20% of young students from disadvantaged social backgrounds drop out in their first year.
A larger number of disadvantaged students now attended university, and institutions must offer higher levels of support to make sure that such students thrive in their studies, experts have stated.
NUS officer, Shakira Martin, claims that “Institutions should do everything they can to ensure that every working-class student that walks through the door has the support not only to get in but to get on in education.”
A Universities UK spokesperson said: “Universities remain committed to ensuring all students succeed in every aspect of university life, regardless of their background.”
“We’d encourage students under financial pressure to contact student support services if they need help – however, greater government support would help to alleviate student concerns with living costs.”