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University students ‘becoming homelessness’ amid rent struggles

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University students ‘becoming homelessness’ amid rent struggles

University students in the UK are experiencing homelessness, rent struggles and housing issues, a report has found.

Around two in five (40%) undergraduates have considered dropping out due to the cost of rent – and 7% have experienced homelessness, according to a poll by the website Save the Student.

Students reported needing to sofa-surf while housing problems were repaired and when they were between tenancy contracts.

Other students who experienced homelessness referred to familial relationship breakdowns.

Nearly two in three (64%) students who pay rent have struggled to keep up with the cost, according to the survey.

More than a third (37%) of students said they had issues with damp in their housing, while 29% have been affected by a lack of water/heating, the poll from the money advice website found.

Save the Student surveyed 1,007 university undergraduate students in the UK online between November and January.

One student – who reported experiencing homelessness in the survey – said: “I couldn’t pay my rent on time so I had to evacuate the hall.”

Another said: “I was (living) in a YMCA and I was later evicted because I was unable to pay rent whilst at uni. I had just (become) estranged from family and was not eligible for student finance.”

Tom Allingham, communications director at Save the Student, said: “The results of this year’s survey are deeply concerning, and highlight how life in a cost-of-living crisis is at risk of becoming the new normal for students.

“Many findings are as bad as – if not worse than – in 2023, highlighting how the intensified difficulties students have faced in recent years have not eased, but instead become entrenched.”

Save the Student is calling on the Government to increase Maintenance Loans by more than 2.5% to help students afford everyday expenses like rent.

Mr Allingham added: “This prolonging of the cost-of-living crisis is largely thanks to below-inflation increases to the maintenance loan in England, and with just a 2.5% increase announced for 2024/25, these real-terms cuts are becoming baked into the system.”

A spokesperson for Universities UK (UUK) said: “Many students are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living.

“Our current students are the next generation of teachers, doctors, nurses and scientists, and while universities are doing all they can to support students, it’s imperative that the maintenance support package is looked at more closely.

“The recently announced uplift will not recover the real terms cut students have seen to their maintenance loans over the past few years.”

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “We know students have continued to face financial challenges, which is why we are increasing loans and grants for living and other costs for a further year. Tuition fees will also be frozen for the seventh year running to reduce the initial amount of debt students will take on.

“To support students further we are providing an additional £10 million to the Office for Students to help students who are struggling financially or with their mental health. This is in addition to the £276 million of Government support that universities can draw on for hardship support and the £3,700 worth of support provided on average per household over the last two years to help with the cost of living.

“Our student finance system ensures that the highest levels of support are targeted at students from the lowest-income families. However, if students are worried about their circumstances, they should speak to their university.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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