Gap between student incomings and outgoings widens

Many students face a shortfall of over £8,000 a year when state support is compared to the cost of living for the 2011-12 academic year, a new analysis suggests.

September 30, 2011

The study by the National Union of Students, published today, found that, for students outside of London, the gap between financial support and living costs was £8,037, 10 per cent higher than the 2010-11 shortfall, which was just over £7,300.

The average cost of living for a non-London student for 2011-12 was £16,9, according to the union, while the average income from government-funded loans and grants was £8,242.

For students studying and living in London, the corresponding figures are £17,428 and £9,880. This is a shortfall of £7,548 – an 11 per cent increase on last year’s figures.

“Not enough of the student support in the higher education system is getting in to the pockets of students and there is a real danger that the situation is getting worse,” said Liam Burns, the NUS president. “There has been shocking leap in the gap between government funding and the cost of being a student.”

He said the wages that young people could earn at present “mean that many students without family support would have to work virtually full-time or take on huge commercial debt whilst they study”.

The survey was released to coincide with the launch by the NUS of a new Student Financial Support Commission, which will carry out a detailed study of the costs students face, the financial support available, and whether they get the assistance they need.

“It is important that we get a full picture of where the failings are,” Mr Burns said.

“Of course tuition fees are a major disincentive for many students but it is the support funds available at university that define its affordability and whether or not many can last the course.

“When this commission reports we will have some clear recommendations for the government that they must listen to if we are to avoid rising numbers of students being unable to afford to study.”

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