Is the maintenance loan enough to survive in University?

Research on the subject conducted by Unipol in collaboration with the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) revealed that students are working while unlawfully doubling up in rooms. While maintenance loans have increased by 5.2% over the past two years, the average student rent has increased by 14.6%. Students who are worried should seek assistance, according to the Department for Education. The BBC was informed in a statement that “our student finance system ensures that the highest levels of support are targeted at students from the lowest-income families.”We advise students to speak with their university if they are concerned about their situation.” 

The standard yearly cost of housing for pupils in England is £7,566, and for the current academic year, the average maintenance loan that students will receive is estimated to be £7,590. This leaves £24 per year for other necessities. For living expenses, students can borrow up to £9,978 (£13,022 in London) annually; however, the maximum amount can only be borrowed by those whose household income is less than £25,000. “The Unipol chief executive, Martin Blakey, stated that the student maintenance system is broken.” “Students and parents need urgent and practical solutions to delivering affordable accommodation.” “We are now at a crisis point compared to years gone by,” Hepi director Nick Hillman stated. The declared maintenance support levels in the majority of the UK simply do not match the majority of students’ actual living costs. Rebranding the maintenance loan as a “contribution to living costs” and highlighting the significance of parental contributions, Hepi and Unipol are advocating for a reform of the student finance system. Given that the majority of full-time students are working part-time jobs in addition to their studies, according to a recent survey, the National Union of Students (NUS) has also suggested that maintenance loans should be adjusted to reflect inflation. Chloe Field of NUS UK stated that “poorer students are effectively forced to attend university part-time.” “Just to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, they have to balance their education with paid jobs. Accommodation expenses are reaching the point where they are keeping students from specific universities from enrolling, which will have catastrophic effects on students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds being able to access education. 

In her last year of criminology at the University of Sunderland, Kayleigh Atkins is a mature student. The mother-of-three receives a maintenance loan of approximately £7,500 a year because her husband’s earnings limit hers. The reality has proven to be more difficult than she had anticipated, even though she was aware that attending college would “be tricky financially”.”We’ve missed rent payments because that’s our biggest outgoing and the rent’s actually gone up £140 a month in the last year,” explains Kayleigh. “The standard of living we enjoy is minimal. It’s basically continual concern and anxiety.” Even yet, Kayleigh is glad she attended college despite the financial hardship.” I adore everything I do… I’m most at ease when I’m studying,” she explains.

In summary, recent research by Unipol and the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) highlights a concerning situation where students in the UK are struggling to make ends meet due to rising living costs and stagnant maintenance loan levels. The financial burden on students, particularly those from lower-income backgrounds, is evident as they work part-time jobs to cover basic expenses. Calls for reforming the student finance system and increasing maintenance loan support are growing louder, but concrete changes are yet to be seen. The stories of students like Kayleigh Atkins illustrate the real challenges they face, and the issue of affordable education in the UK remains a pressing concern.