In the first 100 days, break the student crisis cycle

Students are struggling with basic necessities like food, rent, and travel. 94% of students are cutting back on necessities. Our studies and our health are suffering. We need urgent action.

Right now, students need a cost-of-living crisis package, including:

  • Uprating and backdating maintenance loans in line with inflation
  • Living Wage for apprentices, Living Stipends for postgraduate students
  • Extension of Universal Credit to students and FE learners
  • Capping rents in line with student income and more affordable bed spaces
  • Eliminating waiting lists for mental healthcare, and no disruption in healthcare pathways when students move house
  • Giving GPs and nurse prescribers greater powers to prescribe for gender-affirming healthcare

Current present & future

People can’t study if they can’t meet their basic needs. Research has found that:

  • 65% of students are cutting back on food
  • 77% of students’ families’ wages are impacted by the cost-of-living crisis
  • 46% of students’ mental health has worsened since September 2023
  • Of full-time students who work, 1 in 5 work more than 20 hours a week

Students are seen as ripe to be ripped off. We’re taken advantage of by landlords and by our bosses; our universities and colleges are trying to claw back underfunding by subsidising their income with expensive, outsourced food and student accommodation. Our mental health is suffering, and we can’t get the treatment we need – and we’re seeing our international friends and colleagues being separated from their families.

The government assumes we all have two parents on middle-class incomes, ready to pay our way for us – but that’s not who we are anymore. All of this means we simply don’t have the money to concentrate on our studies.

Alternative present & future

Imagine if we were all able to afford to live in a good-quality home, had the time and money to eat healthy, nutritious food, and the energy to focus on our education.

Campuses across Europe are able to support our generation of students to live this way, so why can’t we? We’d spend more time learning – and less time thinking about what we can do just to survive.

We need a minimum standard of living, so that we can focus on what we came into education for: learning!

When students are supported, we see more time going into our studies, into development of ourselves, into innovation, and into reaching our potential – but we also see relief on public services and the welfare state, because we are healthier and are contributing more. This frees up societal resource to build our future and invest in long-term infrastructure.

We have the time and space to access our hopes and dreams – just the same as the generations before us had.

With this package of measures, we could lift every student in the UK out of poverty, give us all hope for the future, and make it possible for studying to be a driver of opportunity for our generation once more.

Policy Ideas

Lift all students out of immediate poverty with a student cost-of-living crisis package.

Immediate action on student funding:

  • Uprate maintenance loans with inflation, backdated to June 2022, and a commitment to bringing back fairly funded maintenance grants
  • Introduce non-interest-bearing loans so that everyone can access student funding
  • Living Wage for apprentices
  • Maintenance funding for postgraduate taught students
  • Living Stipends for postgraduate research students
  • Extend Universal Credit eligibility to all students and apprentices

Ensure all students can access housing by:

  • Ensuring that 35% of all student bed spaces are affordable, with rents related to the average student income
  • Committing to controlling rents over the course of the next government

Invest in and reform local healthcare provision to:

  • Eliminate waiting lists for mental healthcare
  • Ensure no disruption in care pathways when people turn 18 or move house and move across the UK
  • Update regulations in gender-affirming healthcare to give GPs and nurse prescribers the powers to prescribe hormones

What Students Think

  • 94% of students are cutting back due to the cost-of-living crisis.
  • 89% of students want to see maintenance grants equivalent to the Living Wage.
  • 91% of students believe apprentices should be paid the Real Living Wage.