The cost-of-living crisis is casting a long shadow over students going into higher education this year. It’s impacting students across the socio-economic spectrum, but mainly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Instead of choosing their preferred course, it seems many students have opted to stay closer to home to lessen the financial strain.
New study says more students unable to leave home
New research from UCL claims one in three students starting university this year may have chosen to live at home. Students in the study claimed they were staying at home because their preferred university was close by. But most of them would then go on to tell researchers they couldn’t afford to live away from home, or needed to stay close to their families.
UCL teamed up with the Sutton Trust to interview 11,000 students who were finishing their A-Levels this year and either going off to study or into work.
20% of those young people that were applying for university said they were staying at home during term time. And 14% were cautious about moving away. These students usually came from households that were struggling to keep up with basic living costs.
A further 8% of the interviewees in the study were also carers, and had ill or elderly family members who depended on them staying close to home.
Students getting short changed, now and in the future
Students who feel the pressure to choose courses based on proximity rather than personal preference could limit their university experience, as well as their opportunities later in life.
It might force them down the wrong career route, leading to job dissatisfaction, lower earning potential, and a higher likelihood of career changes later in life.
Rachel Hewitt, the chief executive of MillionPlus group, is calling for increased financial aid and crisis funds for those most in need: “We must not allow the cost of living crisis to undo the huge strides that have been made in widening access and participation.
“The government should consider re-introducing maintenance grants to relieve some of the financial squeeze and must include students in any further cost-of-living measures implemented.”
Financial education could create better household habits
While the funding system for disadvantaged students needs reform, making financial education more of a priority earlier in life could make households more financially durable. Hopefully then creating more opportunities for students to leave home if they want to.
According to an Opinium study in March, 70% of UK adults said better financial education when they were younger would have increased their ability to manage their finances.
It’s always been a gaping hole in the UK education system, and it’s prompted Santander UK and international online educational publisher Twinkl to launch a first-of-its-kind Financial Education Recognition Scheme for UK schools. Their aim is to make financial education a permanent fixture on England’s primary school curriculum.
The cost-of-living crisis shows no signs of abating, and the troughs of economic health will keep coming back around to test us. It’s why financial education needs to be given more focus. So that the next generation of UK households can feel more in control of their financial welfare and in a better position to support their children’s future.
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