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.


Parents forced into debt to pay for school uniforms

Parents are being forced to fork out hundreds of pound to kit out their children for attending state schools, according to a survey out today.

The average cost for kitting out a primary school pupil is now £156 – including uniforms, coats and bags – and £285 for a secondary school.

According to the charity Family Action, which carried out the survey, the cost has increased as the number of flagship academies and free schools increases.

The charity points out that this means parents on the poverty line are being forced to spend up to two-fifths of their income in August on back-to-school costs.

“Many schools use the transition to academy status as an opportunity for rebranding – which often includes changing the uniform,” says their report, The Big Stitch Up. “Although some headteachers will argue that rebranding a school can have a positive effect, it can also result in parents having to pay a significant penalty in back-to-school costs.”

The survey of 13 state schools – 10 secondary and three primary – unearthed one example of an academy where 70 per cent of parents had to take out loans to pay for the new £225 uniform.  The previous uniform for the old school had cost £99.

The charity is urging schools to scrap specially branded school uniforms let parents shop around for plan, standard clothing from a retailer of their choice.

The report adds that local authority school uniform grants are now a “postcode lottery” – with several offering nothing at all in the way of help for parents.

Advice from the Department for Education says schools should “make certain that the uniform chosen is affordable and does not act as a barrier to parents when choosing a school”.

%d bloggers like this: