Half of students in England are struggling financially, with a quarter taking on additional debt and three in 10 skipping classes and tutorials to cut costs, according to a survey by the Office for National Statistics.
More than nine in 10 (91%) students who took the survey said they were worried about the cost of living, and 45% said their mental health had deteriorated as a result during the term of autumn.
Amid warnings that students risk becoming forgotten victims of the cost of living crisis, nearly one in five of those polled said they had considered putting their degree on hold until next year .
Nearly two-thirds (62%) reduced their food purchases, almost two in five (38%) reduced their gas and electricity consumption to cut costs, and more than half (52%) had to count on their savings to fend for themselves.
More than three-quarters (77%) said they feared the crisis would affect their results in their degree. Four in 10 (40%) said they study more from home to save costs rather than going to campus, and one in five (21%) attend classes remotely when possible.
Tim Gibbs, from the ONS, said: “Like most of the adults we surveyed, these results show that most higher education students are feeling the impact of the rising cost of living. However , for some it can also impact their educational experience, with some reducing non-compulsory aspects of their course to save money and considering other options, such as suspending their studies.
The survey, which attracted 4,201 responses mainly from undergraduate students at various universities in England, found that 29% opted out of attending non-compulsory classes and tutorials to save on costs, while 31% avoided field trips and conferences to cut costs. .
Almost one in five students (18%) said they had considered returning to their family home and traveling to their university from there, and 6% planned to do so. Although 19% of students said they had considered suspending their studies and resuming next year, only 1% were actively planning to do so.
Similarly, 19% had considered switching from classroom to remote learning, but only 2% planned to do so. The cost of living crisis is also shaping future plans, with more than a third (34%) now less likely to continue their education after completing their education.
Of the in four students who said they took on new debt in response to the rising cost of living – either by borrowing more or using additional credit – two-thirds (66%) said their student loan n wasn’t enough to live on.
When asked if they could ask a family member for money, almost half (48%) said they could not. Many universities have offered financial aid to students most affected by the cost of living crisis, but only 16% of those surveyed had applied for scholarships, 7% had applied for money from their university hardship fund and 5 % of other financial aid.
Professor Steve West, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol, said: “Students risk becoming the forgotten group in the cost of living crisis. We need the government to work with us and provide targeted hardship funding to protect them now, before their cost of living becomes so high that they are no longer able to continue their education.
“If this were to happen, it is a tragic loss of talent for the country and a personal loss that destroys hope, opportunity, potential and social mobility. We cannot afford to let this happen.
A separate report from Endsleigh’s Student Aid Programme, a service providing 24/7 assistance to students, said calls from students seeking financial support had increased by 39%, while calls about student accommodation had increased by 46%. Endsleigh said there had been a 70% increase in calls from students seeking help for depression.
The Department of Education has been approached for comment.