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UK universities call for maintenance loan uplift amid students’ financial woes

UK universities call for maintenance loan uplift amid students’ financial woes

 Universities indicate that more and more students are turning to them for assistance with their financial difficulties, and the government is being encouraged not to forget about them amid the cost of living issue.

The Russell Group of research-intensive institutions demanded an immediate rise in maintenance loans in line with current inflation as well as an increase in hardship funds to target those who are most in need ahead of Friday's mini-budget.

A poll found that the average student's maintenance loan now falls £439 short of supporting their living costs each month, up from the £340 shortfall last year, prompting the consortium of 24 top universities to make this appeal.

Four out of five students (82%) are concerned about how to make ends meet, up from 76% last year, according to the National Student Money Survey 2022, which is conducted by Save the Student, a website that offers advice to students on how to make their money go further. The survey surveyed 2,300 university students. One out of every ten participants in the survey said they had utilized a food bank in the previous academic year.

According to a survey response from a University of Chichester second-year student, it is difficult for her to maintain a good outlook on life because everything is getting more expensive. A first-year University of Surrey student claimed they skipped meals so they could pay the rent.

The financial advisor with Save the Student, Jake Butler, said: "I've never been more concerned about the difficulties kids are having. The National Student Money Survey has been conducted for ten years, and this year's results are dismal. And we anticipate much worse to come.

According to the Russell Group, which also notes that parental income levels used to determine maximum loan amounts have remained steady since 2008, despite near double-digit inflation, the loan that students can receive to assist living costs has increased by only 2.3% for 2022/23.

The chief executive of the Russell Group, Dr. Tim Bradshaw, stated: "It's crucial that students are not left out of the discourse as the government sets out its emergency budget to help individuals who are struggling with the cost of living problem. A significant number of people are reportedly approaching our members with financial questions. There is an urgent need for extra assistance, even as institutions are scaling up support before the start of the new semester, including increasing financial aid.

The Russell Group also advocated for the longer term reinstatement of means-tested maintenance funds for those who most require them.

Chloe Field, vice president of the National Union of Students for higher education, said: "It's upsetting, but regrettably not surprising to see this data out.

According to NUS study, students are in a serious crisis due to poor pay and uncertain employment, loans that don't increase with inflation, and subpar accommodation that costs too much to heat. This crisis is having a severe negative impact on students' mental health. Every person who is enrolled in school needs an urgent student support package, and we need it now.

According to a representative for the Department of Education, maintenance loans have been increased annually to help students with living expenses, giving underprivileged students access to the biggest cash amounts ever.

"We recognize that household budgets are being squeezed by global inflationary pressures, and individuals are concerned about meeting their fundamental needs. As a result, underprivileged students now have access to the biggest cash sums ever.

"Students who are concerned about their financial situation should talk to their university about the resources available to them. Universities can increase their financial assistance grants this year by utilizing the up to £261 million we have made available through the Office for Students.

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