Cost of living: Students skipping meals, attending lectures remotely and taking on new debt

Students in England have been skipping meals, attending lectures remotely and taking on more debt in a bid to cope with the rising cost of living, new data shows.

The Office for National Statistics found the rate students at English universities are being impacted by the crisis is similar to that of other adults across Great Britain as a whole, with more than nine in ten reporting their expenses had increased.

Half of the students said they are experiencing financial difficulties, and 15% said they were having major money problems.

More than three-quarters of students (77%) said they were concerned the rising cost of living may affect how well they do in their studies.

Read more: What support is available for students?

They reported skipping meals, not attending course-related events, and attending lectures remotely to try and save money.

Some 25% of students also said they had been borrowing more money or using credit more than usual.

Of those taking on more debt, two-thirds (66%) said they did so because their student loan was not enough to support their living costs.

Nearly half (45%) said their mental health and well-being had worsened since the start of the autumn term.

Students were also asked whether they would be able to ask a family member for money. Nearly half (48%) said that they would be able to, but the same proportion (48%) said that, for one reason or another, they would not be able to.

But the ONS also found the majority of students had not applied for any financial assistance from their university. Only 16% had applied for bursaries, and 7% to their university's higher education fund.

Students can apply for educational trusts and charities for smaller amounts of funding - and organisations such as Turn2Us, Family Action and Funds Online have searchable online databases of grants.

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Data may not tell the full story

Today's statistics are experimental - meaning they may not tell the full story.

The survey was the first official research of its kind and based on the views of just over 4,000 students.

One-third (34%) of students said they were now less likely to continue in education once they had completed their course.

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How worried are students?

One in five (19%) had considered pausing their course and resuming it next year, with the same number (19%) saying they were considering changing from classroom-based to remote learning in a bid to save on transport costs.

However, the proportion of students actively planning to take these actions was substantially lower. Only 1% of students planned to pause their course and resume it next year, while 2% were planning to change from classroom and remote learning. Only 6% were planning to move back to their family home and commute to university from there.

Only 2% of students said they were unlikely or extremely unlikely to continue with their course.