Half of Edinburgh students believe they cannot cover their basic living costs

‘I cry myself to sleep multiple times a week because my finances are killing my mental health’

A new report commissioned by the Russell Group Students Union has revealed the extent of the cost of living crisis and its impact on students at the University of Edinburgh, revealing that almost all students have been affected in some way.

The crisis, which began at the end of 2021, has increased bills, rent and basic essentials, with students being disproportionately hit by these costs as they see their average monthly expenses skyrocket.

The report revealed that over 50 per cent of students at the University of Edinburgh have had to borrow money to pay rent/bills with only one in two being confident that they have enough money to cover their basic living costs.

What’s more, 19 per cent have deferred their studies whilst 18 per cent have considered dropping out due to financial issues.

One student surveyed even revealed that they are “homeless and expect to remain homeless for the rest of my degree”. This seems like a common experience for many students, with the National Union of Students stating in August that they were concerned over the shortage of affordable student accommodation in Edinburgh.

This highlights a worrying trend, with reports last year revealing that nearly one in five Edinburgh students pay over £800 per month on rent, whilst the NatWest Student Living Index found that Edinburgh is now the most expensive place in the UK for students with student spending on bills, rent and living expenses outweighing their income on a monthly basis.

One of the services that students have been encouraged to access if they are struggling to make ends meet is the university’s Hardship Fund which offers students a single payment based on their individual needs.

However, students have said that they are reluctant to access the funding as the process is confusing, time-consuming and highly invasive, with one student in the report adding that “the process of accessing the university’s hardship fund is humiliating and often the amount is frankly insulting…if you are lucky and deemed sufficiently in need, a one-off payment of £250, for example, is not going to make a lot of difference.”

The report overall highlights that students at the University of Edinburgh are some of the hardest hit by the cost of living crisis. In response to the findings, Vice President of Community Isi William says the research is “a call to arms” that “demands that we take immediate action…and to provide greater support and resources for students struggling to make ends meet. We cannot afford to ignore the plight of our students any longer.”

In response to the report the University of Edinburgh wrote: “We have committed to supporting our students with the rise in the cost of living. We have more than doubled the available funds for students who are experiencing financial difficulties to over £3 million. We have streamlined the application process and we encourage any of our students struggling financially to get in touch to find out what support is available to them.

“We also have a number of provisions on campus to help students manage their finances. A range of IT and tech equipment is available for loan and we have fixed our café prices for the academic year. To protect students from rising bills, we have taken measures to ensure that our rental rates remain below the market rate and have absorbed higher rises in costs for utilities and food.”

More details about the financial support available to students can be found here.

More details on how we are supporting students with the cost of living can be found here.

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