Students face cost-of-living crisis, suggests NUS data

Students in England face a cost-of-living crisis as loans and grants fail to keep pace with rents and bills, claims the National Union of Students.

The gap between income and expenditure for a typical student amounts to more than £7,600 according to NUS analysis.

The union compared the cost of living and studying for the 39-week 2013-14 academic year with typical income from government grants and loans.

The government said it was targeting support at those who needed it most.

Rent, bills and other outgoings continue to rise year after year above the rate of inflation but grants and loan rates were frozen this year and will only rise by 1% next year, says the union.

It estimates that a student living outside London will pay an average of £21,440 in tuition fees, books, equipment, rent, travel and other living expenses.

Against this, they have a potential income of £13,747 composed of their tuition fee loan plus maintenance loans and the grants available to those on average and low incomes.

This leaves a shortfall of £7,693.

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One in 10 parents make house purchase choice based on schools, study shows

Research by Nationwide demonstrates increasing desperation of parents scrambling to secure best education for their children

Nearly a quarter of UK parents of children of school age would be prepared to pay between 2% and 10% more for a new home – potentially thousands of pounds extra – in order to be in the catchment area of a good state school, according to research by Nationwide.

In a sign of the growing desperation of parents scrambling to secure the best education for their youngsters by living close to the top state schools, nearly one in ten (8%) admit they would shell out a premium of more than 10% extra for their house, while 8% would pay up to an additional 2%.

The research, published today by the UK’s largest building society, the Nationwide, and carried out by YouGov, also shows that parents are already making house purchase choices based on schools. Nearly one in five parents (18 %) admit that a school league table or school Ofsted rating has influenced where they chose to live. It comes as parents are currently doing the rounds of open days held at primary and secondary schools, for admission next year.

University leavers lack the essential skills for work, employers warn

Large numbers of students are leaving university lacking the basic skills needed to get by in the workplace, according to new research.

More than half of employers said all or almost all graduate recruits started work without vital attributes, such as team work, communication, punctuality and the ability to cope under pressure.

A poll of company leaders found that just under one in five businesses believe graduates are “work ready”.

The conclusions will add to concerns that schools, colleges and universities are too focused on ensuring that young people pass exams at the expense of equipping them with life skills.

Experts also warned that it raised questions over the extent to which universities are spending tuition fee income on programmes designed to get students ready for work, particularly with the cost of a degree rising to £9,000 a year in England.

The YouGov research was based on a survey of 635 employers, including 419 directly responsible for recruiting graduates. In all, 52 per cent of graduate employers said none or few graduate recruits were work-ready when they joined, with 17 per cent claiming none of them were fit for the job.

“Money” to be taught in schools – with a lesson on state spending

Financial education has been confirmed as an official part of the English national curriculum, including lessons on the public finances.

Children will be taught how to manage their money in schools for the first time in England, after financial education was included in the final version of the national curriculum.

The detail was published last night by the Department for Education and includes financial education in mathematics and citizenship education for secondary school pupils.

There have been further elements added since a draft curriculum earlier in the year opened to consultation, including lessons in how public money is raised and spent.

Personal finance is already taught in schools in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In Mathematics, “financial mathematics” is emphasised for the first time. Pupils will be asked to solve problems involving percentage change and simple interest, for example.

Pupils will learn to manage their money and plan for future financial decisions in citizenship classes, which will also include lessons in financial products and how public money is raised through measures like income tax, according to the published curriculum.

The curriculum will be rolled out across all government-funded, or maintained, schools, from September 2014.

Tracey Bleakley, pfeg chief executive, said: “It is especially welcome to see the link between personal finance and public finances restored to the final programmes of study for Citizenship education.

‘Fortnight spent on Lessons forgotten over summer’

More than one third of London primary school teachers will spend the first two weeks of term going over forgotten lessons as children suffer from summer holiday “brain drain”, research suggests.

Experts called on parents to organise more educational activities during the six-week break to stop children from regressing in their studies.

It comes after shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg urged parents to make sure their children read during the holidays to prevent the “summer slide” in educational achievement.

Research published today by education entertainment company LeapFrog found that just 23 per cent of parents actively kept up learning activities and school exercises over the summer holidays, while 10 per cent said they think it solely up to teachers to educate their children.

Just two per cent of parents considered educational activities as a top priority in the holidays — instead, keeping costs down was the top priority for almost a quarter of parents.

As a result, 38 per cent of London primary school teachers will spend up to two weeks covering old ground, the survey claimed. It said maths and English were most badly affected.

Labour has called for more summer reading programmes to be available for lower income families after research found poorer children are believed to be hit the hardest by the “summer slide”.

More than half of students get no parental help

The majority of students are applying for controversial new student loans.

More than half of university students receive no financial help from their parents – resulting in most having to take out loans to cover tuition and living expenses.

In a survey by website Topcashback.co.uk almost three quarters of students said they did not expect any help from parents. But a smaller number – 57 per cent – did not actually receive any.

The backdrop is steeply rising university costs and the introduction of a complex and controversial new student loans system, which launched in 2012. From that year annual university fees in England rose from up to £3,000 to up to £9,000.

The site’s research shows two-thirds of students take out student loans to help cover the cost of university and 54pc have a job while studying. Smaller numbers – two in five – use savings to help meet the costs.

A report on new loans system – effective from September 1, 2012 – is complex. All students in England can apply for tuition loans, covering their course fees, and maintenance loans that help with living costs such as accommodation, bills and books. 

Rising inequality mars children’s lives

Inequality and disadvantage continue to blight the lives of millions of children born in the UK, more than 40 years on from the publication of a landmark report into the experiences of children from poor backgrounds.

Greater Expectations by the National Children’s Bureau finds that the number of children living in poverty today has risen by 1.5 million since the NCB carried out its study Born to fail?, in 1969.

The new report says that ‘unequal childhoods’ are now a permanent feature of British life.

It concludes that, ‘Today, although there have been some improvements, overall the situation appears to be no better, and in some respects has got worse.’

NCB is calling for the setting up of a Government board with ministers tasked to develop and implement a strategy to reduce inequality and disadvantage. It also recommends that the Office for Budget Responsibility should assess and report on the impact that each Budget has on child poverty and inequality.

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