Half of students can’t afford to pay rent with their loan

‘Forget about tuition fees – this is the real issue facing students’

Being skint is unavoidably a part of student life, however half of students can't cover rent with their student loan, a new survey has found

Almost two thirds of students said the cost of accommodation had a negative effect on their mental health, results from the National Student Accommodation Survey 2019 also revealed.

A spokesperson for the survey told The Tab people need to "forget about tuition fees and high interest rates – unaffordable rent is the real issue facing students".

The average rent costs £125 per week (£541 per month) however the average student maintenance loan is only £125 per week – meaning that many students are left with no money to cover the cost of their living.

The survey carried out by Save the Student, a student money expert website who polled thousands of students in January this year, revealed that 65 per cent of students had to borrow money from either parents, a bank loan, or their friends to cover the cost of their accommodation.

A spokesperson for Save the Student told The Tab how outrageous it is so many students are struggling to keep up with rent due to the "shockingly low" maintenance loan.

They continued the sheer cost of living is putting a huge "strain on students across the country, exacerbating mental health issues and the temptation to drop out of university".

The survey also revealed an 18 per cent increase in students saying that the cost of accommodation is negatively impacting their mental health compared to last year's survey, which only saw 45 per cent of students affected.

Students are 'beyond stressed' with the pressure of paying rent

University of Birmingham student Nicole Donaldson's maintenance loan does not cover the cost of her accommodation, and there is no option of an accommodation that fits her budget.

Nicole told The Tab how she has had to work two jobs throughout her degree to support herself. She describes how she feels "beyond stressed" juggling her degree, work, and still trying to have the uni experience.

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Nicole acknowledged she is fortunate in that she can get some support from her parents, as many of her friends cannot. However, she added: "There is an assumption of financial independence when you are a student, however when you are on the minimum loan you are tied to your family, relying on them for financial support. This can add another set of tensions."

In May, the Augar Review into Higher Education found that most parents didn't know how much they were expected to help their kids at uni. Under the current system, students on minimum loan should be getting £5,000 a year from their parents to make up for the lower loan they get as a result of their parents' income.

Students are going on strike to fight back against rent prices

According to the survey, 82 per cent of students want to see the price of rent capped as they cannot afford to live. Some Students' Unions are now taking action against their uni because of the price of rent.

University of York's Community and Wellbeing Officer Steph Hayle was "furious" at how York were increasing the price of accommodation and decided to launch her social media campaign #RentRant calling on all students to share their horror stories from renting.

Hayle's campaign was initially launched as University of York currently offers no student accommodation that costs less than the minimum student loan.

Elsewhere, University of Bristol students went on a rent strike and denied the university £100k in rent.

Speaking to The Tab, Ruth Day, a key figure in the Bristol Cut the Rent protest, said that the drastic action students had taken refusing to pay their rent was "unavoidable".

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Bristol Cut the Rent protest took place outside the accommodation office

She added that the financial pressures of paying rent was having a drastic impact upon the mental health of many students. The "final straw" for Bristol students was when the university responded late to a petition that over 600 students signed calling to cut the price of rent.

Day said that students felt the university "made excuses" about rent costs and "did not listen" to student needs.

How have universities responded?

The University of York responded to Hayles #RentRant social media campaign on Twitter saying they take all student feedback "very seriously and will continue to consult and work with students".

In response to University of Bristol's student protest a spokesperson for the university told The Tab they are "committed to ensuring university accommodation is available to a full range of budgets and personal requirements".

They added that they offer a number of accommodation bursaries and a range of financial packages to support students from a low-income households.

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