The true impact of the cost of living crisis on students

In January and February, we asked you to fill in a Cost of Living survey. Over 1,000 Exeter students joined more than 7,000 students at other Russell Group Universities across the UK and the results of the survey are now available to read here.  

The results show that students are facing poverty with extreme impacts on health, social wellbeing, and studies:

  • 94% of students are concerned about the cost of living crisis  
  • The average student’s monthly income after accommodation costs is just £2 per week above the line for destitution in the UK, and below the poverty line  
  • 1 in 4 are regularly going without food and necessities, with students reporting studying in freezing accommodation, unable to turn the heating on and experiencing detrimental health impacts  
  • Over half report their academic studies have been negatively impacted and 1 in 5 consider dropping out

The data from the survey is shocking but perhaps, not surprising to those of you who are experiencing the daily struggle of skipping lectures to undertake paid work or choosing between heating and eating.  

It’s clear from this report and other data from the sector that students have been completely forgotten by the Government throughout the cost of living crisis.  

It also highlights the fact that groups of students who are already disadvantaged are hit the hardest. The cost of living crisis is posing a significant threat to our diverse and vibrant university communities – students except those from the most privileged backgrounds are set to be priced out of education. Read more from Guild President Lily, about this here.  

What next?

The Russell Group and Russell Group Students’ Unions are calling on the Government to make three significant changes:


Increase student maintenance loans in line with inflation since 2020/21.


Consider the reintroduction of maintenance grants to support the most disadvantaged students.


Review the parental threshold for maximum loan support, which has been frozen since 2008 despite average earnings increasing significantly.

At NUS National Conference this week, tackling the cost of living crisis is one of the key topics being discussed.

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