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One Third Of Students Starving Themselves to Match University Costs

One in ten also resorted to payday loans to see them through.

According to a survey of over 800 students, nearly a third said they had gone without eating for a day or more to help cope with the cost of living at university. One in ten also resorted to payday loans to see them through.

The study, which asked university students across the country how they coped with soaring living costs, revealed that many undergraduates found it hard to make ends meet, with one in five doing without heating or electricity for a week or more.

The findings support previous research, released last year, which suggested that university students were turning to gambling, medical trials and adult work in order to supplement the maintenance loan provided by the Government.

The research, conducted by The Student Room, also revealed that 13% of undergraduates admitted stealing; whether that was food, money or both to make ends meet. Of those that admitted theft, 79% said they had stolen food - followed by alcohol and money at 51%

Hannah Morrish, university community manager at The Student Room, said the research highlighted how "vulnerable" many students were, "not just financially, but socially as well" with one in five working more than one job.

“For any students who are struggling to make ends meet we want to stress that there is an active and easy to access support network available," she said, "from applying for student hardship funds from universities through to independent and anonymous financial advice forums.

She added that The Money Charity, National Debtline and the Citizens Advice Bureau were all "great starting places for debt counselling."

"Across the country everyone is feeling the stress of rising living costs and, unfortunately, students are no exception."
The research follows warnings from the National Union of Students (NUS) that the maintenance loan was “not keeping pace with the rise in living costs”.

According to the annual National Student Money survey, the maintenance loan leaves the average student "around £265 short each month", meaning The Government's recent decision to cut maintenance grants awarded to the poorest students, also drew criticism from the union.

Under the plans announced in the summer Budget, from 2016 maintenance grants will be replaced with loans that have to be paid back once students earn over £21,000 a year.

Megan Dunn, NUS national president, said: “The scrapping of maintenance grants is an enormous change that would affect thousands of students, but the government has failed to recognise just how widespread the impact would be.

“The most marginalised students would be the worst affected and could even be shut out of the education system completely. This would be a devastating outcome stemming from a poorly researched decision."

She continued: "NUS believes the government should be cutting the cost of education, not plunging students further into debt.”

  • Date published: 06th January 2016