After what could be described as a challenging year to say the least, the results from the National Student Money Survey are in for 2021. The results have highlighted a variety of financial problems that students have had to face over the 2020/21 academic year, and in this article, we’ll discuss the findings of the results.
Overview of key results
Worryingly, as many as three quarters of students who took the survey have thought about dropping out of university, with one of the main reasons being the lack of funding available to them.
Students struggling to get by financially was one of the most common themes amongst the results of the survey. On average, student’s maintenance loans were £340 less than their living costs per month. It’s clear that financial stresses have had other negative impacts on students with the following statistics being reported from the survey:
- 34% of students say their grades have suffered
- 36% of students say their relationships have suffered
- 45% of students say their sleep has suffered
- 47% of students say their diet has suffered
- 65% of students say their social life has suffered
- 65% of students say their mental health has suffered
Whilst this can’t all be attributed to financial difficulties, there’s no doubt that this has had a major negative impact on students over the last academic year. Of course, isolation after being unable to attend university in person was also highlighted as affecting aspects of student life, and this combined with money troubles could have had a greater impact on mental health when compared to previous years.
Are student loans enough?
The majority view from the results of the survey implies that student maintenance loans do not provide enough financial support for students, with 60% of survey takers claiming the current maintenance loan is not enough. It’s no surprise this is the majority view, as the average monthly living costs for students are currently £810, whereas they are only receiving £470 a month from the maintenance loan, leaving a shortfall of £340 per month.
How much money do students spend?
The living costs of students are varied, and the cost of living will likely depend on where a student is based. However, according to the survey, average living costs are spent across the following:
- £421 on rent
- £101 on groceries
- £47 on going out
- £41 on takeaways and eating out
- £40 on household bills
- £34 on transport
- £34 on clothes & shopping
- £18 on other costs
Out of the monthly average spend of £810, more than half is taken up by rent – which works out at almost the full £470 from the maintenance loan. Of course, students need to eat and pay utility bills (among other things) so it’s not difficult to see why there is a strong claim for the maintenance allowance to be increased.
Ways which students get money
There have been some significant changes in terms of where students are getting their money from compared to the National Student Money Survey conducted in the previous academic year. The most noticeable is the drop in the number of students earning from a part time job. Last year 74% of students who surveyed said they had a part time job, whereas this time around, that percentage has dropped to 66%. This is likely due to the impact of the pandemic, and hopefully more jobs will start to open to students during the near future.
Other ways students are getting money include through their parents, with 66% of students identifying them as a source of funding. 50% claimed that savings were a source of funding, with 32% stating their overdraft, and 31% claiming they earned money through surveying.
Interestingly, 29% of students claimed to earn money through selling their possessions. Perhaps more problematic, 16% of surveyed students said they had turned to credit cards to get money. With an increase from last year, 6% of students said they were getting money from cryptocurrency investments, compared to just 2% the previous academic year.
How much money do students get from their parents?
Not all students have the luxury of being able to turn to their parents for money, but on average, the survey found that students received £120.56 from their parents each month, with the majority of students believing this to be enough. However, 13% of students felt they didn’t receive enough support from their parents.
How university living costs vary across the UK
As expected, the most expensive area to live as a student in the UK is London, with an average cost of £896 per month. The lowest average cost of living for students is the North West, with the cost being £751 per month. All other regions in the country fell in between these two average costs, so it’s no surprise that students in all parts of the UK have taken issue with the amount they are receiving from the maintenance loan.
Do students think university is good value for money?
According to the survey, 51% of students do not think that university is good value for money. It’s been an undeniably challenging year for university students, so it’s not much of a surprise to see this percentage rise from the previous survey. Many students have had all their lectures taking place online and haven’t always been able to leave their accommodation freely and will likely feel they haven’t been able to get their money’s worth whilst at university.
Do students feel confident about their employment prospects?
Employment prospects have been a rising concern amongst students for the past few years, and the pandemic has certainly not helped with this issues. 62% of students in this year’s survey stated they are worried about finding graduate work.
In line with a more competitive market for graduates, students are also predicted that the average graduate starting salary will be lower when compared to previous years, with graduates now expecting an average starting salary of £21,216.
About the survey
The National Student Money Survey was first started in 2013 and has since been gathering information from students regarding their experience managing their finances during their time at university.