In response to the ongoing cost of living crisis, the Welsh Government has rolled out a new support package for students. The average amount that a student can claim in grants and loans, which currently stands at £10,710, will be changing to £11,720, which marks a 9.4% increase. This change will go into effect for the 2023-2024 academic year, beginning in September.
In contrast, students in England will receive a 2.8% rise in funding. The government has introduced a support package of £15m, but experts suggest this will be insufficient to make up for high rent and food prices. Some suggest that despite the increase, inflation levels are such that students will be £1500 a year worse off than they were previously. In addition to this funding, tuition fees have been frozen so that students will not have to take on additional debt.
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language stated:
“Living costs should never be a barrier to studying at university. This increase in support will ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to access higher education.
“Despite continuing budget pressures, I have ensured that the value of support is increased accordingly at this time of exceptional cost-of-living pressures.”
These pressures have certainly been felt over the last academic year. High accommodation prices along with regional housing shortages have resulted in a large number of students commuting to their universities from afar, paying more than they can afford, or missing out on student accommodation altogether. In addition to rent, students are faced with high prices in most every other part of living as well, including food and bills.
Apart from the financial strain, the cost of living crisis can have mental impacts, as well. Many students have reported going out less, and when they do feeling more anxious about their spending. Budgeting is already a stressful endeavour for students in the best of times, since most students are at the beginning of their journey of financial independence, but the high inflation rates mean this pressure is felt more keenly than ever.
It’s clear enough that these financial circumstances have had significant negative impacts on students, but what the next academic year holds is not yet clear. Whether the government will offer students in England an additional support package moving forward remains to be seen.