It’s probably a regular occurrence for many students up and down the country. Two months after loan day, with utility bills mounting, a full fridge a thing of the past and an angry landlord who’s overdue rent, spending all that cash during Fresher’s Week doesn’t seem to have been the brightest of ideas. It is often in times like these that we, as the self-proclaimed hard up youths of the future, decide that resorting to a phone call to access the bank of Mum and Dad is our only option.
In fact, according to Experian – the global information service group – 68% of parents have at some point over the course of their child’s three year undergraduate degree provided an emergency bail out. It also appears that the vast majority of parents are aware of the financial hardship that comes with studying a degree, with 79% of them offering financial support during University.
The news comes as no surprise; the ever inflating economy blended with a poor loan system is alarming, leaving many potential students opting for a full-time job instead.
Fortunately for myself, my parents were always willing to support my education. It was always a dream to leave my home city and study a degree and with two parents who had done the same, I always had their backing. But my loan, which is based purely on household income, is only sufficient to just about cover my rent. A weekly allowance provided by my mother, along with a part-time job, helps provide food and a few beers every now and again. Relying on my mother to support me is not something I am proud of but expenses on travel, books, food, household goods, utility bills, and personal belongings would be unattainable without that weekly allowance.
The hefty price tag
In 2010, the NUS (National Union of Students) estimated that the average expenditure on a living allowance outside of London would cost just over £12,000, with an approximate £4,800 going on rent alone. Some loans amount to under £3,500, condemning many to poor accommodation and the reliance on family to provide living expenses.
The appeal to study is in decline: financial worries on top of a degree are unattractive to a young nation that loves consuming. With tuition fees totalling a massive £27,000 and an average of £5,160 provided by parents for their children throughout their three years of studying, you can understand why some may persuade their offspring to look for a career instead.
It is the system that needs to change. The student loan is based predominately on household income – unless you have a child or disability – but household income alone should not be the deciding factor on how much you are entitled to. Taking into account the amount of siblings you have, the financial support your parents are willing to offer you, where in the country you are studying (when looking for a place to study a degree I found that Brighton’s accommodation was £2000 more than Sheffield’s), and your performance academically at University is much more thorough and will only aid and motivate students.
The system is widening the gap between the rich and the poor. Education should be a right, not a debt sentence, and it is that sentence that dissuades the less wealthy from furthering their education. Parents in well-paid jobs can afford to support their child, but parents who aren’t as wealthy may not be able to, and that reason alone should not hinder their child’s chances of studying and giving them an opportunity for a better future.
What do you think? Do you reply on your parents when at University? Do you agree that the way loans are calculated should be changed?