Sorry, but being broke at uni doesn’t make you working class

We’re not all in the same boat


There's always that one person who will go on about how unfair it is that some get more student loan than others. They will usually say: "We're all poor at uni" or "we're all in the same boat." Except, that's not really true is it?

And it's made even harder when you're surrounded by people who fetishise the working class when they get to uni, by pretending they're from "ends" and claiming they understand your struggle. You will find them complaining about how much in their overdraft they are, while they queue outside the Supreme store for the latest drop. They will adopt slang they don't understand and start listening to grime because they think it's cool, while still taking the piss out of anyone they consider as below them in their social hierarchy. Exhibit A: Hetty Douglas who mocked builders for "having one GCSE."

Sure, you will always spend too much money on things you don't need and hear about the people blowing all of their loans on drugs, who then sit on 88p in their bank account and eat bland pasta for a month. University is a life experience and budgeting is definitely something you will figure out with time. But, in no way does being broke mean that you understand the experience of being an underprivileged student from a working class background.

"But more working-class students are going to uni then ever, so it can't be that bad for them?" I hear you say, but statistically nearly a tenth of male working class students drop out in their first year and the fact is – the number of poor students dropping out of university is at its highest level in five years.

It's just not just about getting in, it's about being able to get through the three years. Student loans can cover rent, but they're usually not enough for food and other essentials. Working class students won't always have an extra allowance from the "bank of Mum and Dad" and are forced to take up part-time jobs, which can inevitably compromise their studies. Oh, and let's not forget that the Tory government axed maintenance grants for the poorest students, leaving them economically vulnerable.

However, the worst assumption of all is that once you get to uni, everyone is on some kind of level playing field. But it's quite clear that not everything is determined by the financial position of a student or the loan they get. Whether it's being laughed at for not pronouncing their Ts in "water" or being invited to "chav" socials, working class students will still face many classist micro-aggressions throughout their years at university.

Every student's individual upbringing and previous education will naturally affect their experiences. It's not wild to assume that the majority of working class students would have attended state schools, which on the larger scale do not provide the kind of academic support or pastoral care that private schools do. So no – everyone is not on a level playing field.

No one should be made to feel guilty about the privilege or the opportunities they've had, but it's time that middle-class students stopped fetishising the working-class for a laugh, to act "cool" or when it benefits their Instagram feed, while the working class are still amongst the most ridiculed and disadvantaged in society.