NUS-USI REPORT: “It's not about the cost of living, it's about the cost of survival”
NUS-USI is calling for urgent support for students in higher and further education across Northern Ireland following the launch of their “Cost of Survival” report.
The report found that students were left with just £29.30 per week after accommodation costs, which accounts for 81.7% of the maximum amount available for undergraduate student loans.
Whilst many students are juggling part time jobs, most will meet the definition of a low-income household, which is currently classified as less than 60% of the national average wage. Despite this, the majority are not eligible for benefits that other low-income households can access, including some of the recent cost of living payments.
The findings are supported by reports from universities and colleges of huge increases in food bank referrals, provision of heat banks and backpacks of hygiene products to students. Some institutions have also made payments to their student population in recognition of the extremely challenging financial circumstances the are facing.
NUS-USI President, Chloe Ferguson, said:
“This report lays bare the scale of the financial crisis facing student populations in Northern Ireland right now. Rising prices driven by high levels of inflation is having a massive impact on society as a whole.
“Our students have told us that for them, it is not about the cost of living, but the cost of survival.
“This stark reality has seen many students unable to heat or eat; unable to pay rent; unable to afford the transport costs to get them to their university or college; and increasingly, unable to continue with their studies.
“With today marking an increase in public transport fares, this is yet another blow to already decimated student budgets.
“This report has urgent costed proposals that would help students in the short-term, as well as recommendations on how to support them in the medium and long-term.
“If our politicians are serious about growing the economy and delivering wellbeing then it is imperative that our students are supported and that education is accessible to all.
“Through a major shift in mindset and by investing in our future, we can unlock the potential that our talented, ambitious and dynamic student population have to offer.
“We hope they listen and act.”
You can see more about the report here.