Study claims students are struggling to afford necessities and are having their health put at risk by high debt.
New research has revealed that debt is adversely affecting students in ever greater numbers. The scrapping of the maintenance grant and a further rise in tuition fees has spiralled the cost of a university education, and high costs mean high debt.
Financial technology company Intelligent Environments commissioned a survey which found that three-quarters of students who apply for maintenance loans feel stressed about the amount of debt they are accumulating. A large number of these students said they have to seek sources of income elsewhere, with a third turning to family members.
The Vice President of NUS, Shelly Asquith, said “the NUS is concerned about the impact this has on the likelihood of working-class students to apply to university,” as they would likely be forced to seek out other forms of income.
The research also found that the top three items students spend their loans on are rent, food and utilities, seemingly disproving the stereotype that students are unable to manage their money.
Director of Intelligent Environments, David Webber, said the duty was on banks to “assist students in managing their finances responsibly.”
Worryingly, a third of the survey’s respondents said they were unable to afford their weekly food shop. The inability to buy food is, along with a higher rate of mental health problems, a consequence of high university debts.
Estelle Clarke, a member of the advisory board for the Intergenerational Foundation – a think-tank that researches fairness between generations – said “there is an undisputed negative relationship between debt and mental health.”
Industry experts have warned these figures depict the inevitable outcomes of an increasingly unaffordable higher education system.