The average student at the University of Bath is spending around 110% of their maintenance loan on rent alone, bathimpact can reveal.
This arises after the national average maintenance loan was just £3,920, compared to the £4,320 a student can expect to spend on a twelve-month contract in the city of Bath.
Combined with other essential costs of living, the ‘average’ student at Bath needs around £9,850, per academic year in order to feel comfortable at university, meaning the maintenance loan represents just under 40% of the necessary budget needed.
This means, that with all things taken into account, students are spending up to £226.00 each week on living costs.
This figure takes into account a number of factors, including rent, utility bills, clothing, books, food and personal expenditure, although calculating the cost of the ‘average’ student can prove arbitrary. It does, however, supply a revealing picture of how stretched finances are whilst studying at university.
The University of Bath is often highlighted as one of the more costly universities to study at outside of London, normally placed in the same category as Durham or Exeter, but cheaper than Oxford or Cambridge.
The Students’ Union Community Officer, Tommy Parker told bathimpact: “Ensuring that students are able to live with dignity whilst at university is of the upmost importance”.
“We work hard to ensure that where financial support and advice is needed, we are able to help. A student’s experience should not be marred by stress and anxiety over money. Whilst the maintainence loan often fails to offer a much needed support mechanism for students, it is important we find ways to reduce the burden for everyone.”
Weekly student living costs vary greatly across the UK from £182.00 in Nottingham to the £273.00 needed in Oxford, statistics from HSBC suggest.
In March this year, the MP for Cambridge, Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert, argued that students in the city should receive the same maintainence loan as students in London, which is capped at £2,000 more than elsewhere.
In terms of the cost of the University of Bath campus, the University and Students’ Union are in the higher end of the table, but are by no means the most expensive.
Currently the cheapest available University accommodation (self-catered, single room) at the University of Bath stands at £88.00 per week.
Compared to other non-London, campus-based universities this is not unreasonable, with the cheapest at York and Reading costing £103.00 and £99.00 alike.
Ranking the cheapest-available accommodation nationally, according to these criteria, the University of Bath comes 8th out of 18 universities (of Russell or 1992 Group institutions).
The University of Bath does fall behind on the cost of the cheapest pint available in the Students’ Union standing at £2.50, with the University of Edinburgh offering a pint for £1.60, University of Durham for 1.50 and the University of Kent for £2.00.
Nationally, there are few Students’ Unions which sell beer at a more costly price, with the University of East Anglia, University of Cambridge and University of Loughborough being notable exceptions.
University of Bath Students’ Union President Jordan Kenny said on the higher than average cost of beer: “the prices in the Plug and Tub reflect the cost price of purchasing beer, as well as our commitment to responsible retailing”.
The cost of student living has become increasingly contentious in the last few years, particularly in the wake of increased rent prices and the introduction of £9,000 tuition fees.
There has also been staunch criticism of the impact of maintenance loans when ‘hidden costs’ are taken into account, including textbooks, printing costs, internet and – of course – unplannable emergency costs, including broken equipment or medical injuries.
In 2013, the National Union of Students released a report which suggested that students outside of London could be spending as much as £12,160 each year on a range of non-academic related expenses.
Toni Pearce, President of the NUS, said in relation to this, “Many students starting university this month are facing a cost of living crisis, with available financial support in loans and grants failing to keep pace with spiralling bills for basic essentials.”
“Those who do not have the rare luxury of resorting to the ‘bank of mum and dad’ are increasingly being driven to work full-time alongside study where jobs can be found, or worse still into the arms of predatory pay day lenders just to make ends meet.”
The cost of living crisis has seen the number of students taking on part-time jobs increase considerably over recent years. A 2014 survey conducted by insurance provider Endsleigh and the National Union of Students revealed that 45% of students now had part-time jobs, with 13% taking on full-time jobs.
The report also revealed that 25% of students feel the need to ‘dip into’ their overdraft, but more significantly, around 67% of students saw their maintenance loan as a vital source of income, up from 60% on the previous year.
For University of Bath students, the highest maintenance loan one can receive is £5,500, however – as mentioned above – the national average awarded is measured at £3,920. For students living in families with a household income of less than £25,000 a year, students can request maintenance grants on top of their loan with a value of around £3,400.
At the end of February, Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, pledged to increase the maintenance loan by £400 by investing £200 million into the scheme.
The figures used by bathimpact will be available online, however they assume £90.00 is spent each week on rent, £15.00 on utility bills, and a weekly phone contract of £5.00.
They also assume that around £40.00 is spent each week on food, £14.00 on travel and £7.00 on clothing and is based on research by the University.