We’ve been talking a lot recently about the importance of financial wellbeing and how it’s aligned with our wider health, broader life satisfaction and happiness.
So while we know that COVID-19 has been disruptive for students in terms of closed campuses, lost learning time, and missed social connections, we also wondered about the impact of financial worries (exacerbated by the pandemic) on students’ mental health.
We commissioned research to better understand how financial concerns are impacting students and their wider physical and mental health.
Available now are the findings from a January 2021 survey completed by 1,000 university students across the UK, conducted by Censuswide on our behalf.
COVID-19 and students’ finances
Students’ finances have taken multiple hits over the last year, including:
- Losing paid work – students often find part-time jobs in heavily COVID-19 affected sectors like hospitality and retail.
- Feeling the effects of increased strain on the finances of their parent(s) and guardian(s) – this is bound to have a knock-on effect as 62% of students surveyed said they would turn to parent(s)/guardian(s) for advice and support if they had financial difficulties.
- A lack of hope for future finances and the ability to have fulfilling lives – including becoming a homeowner.
“I was out of work for some time last year due to COVID-19 and had to rely on credit cards for some time which has created more debt.”
The impact on students’ mental health
Given these impacts on students’ finances, while concerning, it wasn’t surprising when 75% of students surveyed told us they worry about finances.
Download the whitepaper report to discover the impact students said this worry is having on both their mental health and university experience, as well as the actions they have felt forced to take as a result of financial concerns.
“There aren’t really any side hustles available at the moment, and the ones that are available would mean there is an increased chance of bringing covid back home with me. As I am in a support bubble with my last grandparent, I really don’t want to risk it. The only thing I could do is create an Only Fans account but I don’t think I’m brave enough or pretty enough for that. Still, as the potential for income is there, I do find myself considering making an Only Fans account more and more often.”
The research addresses three key questions:
- Can students afford to stay at university? Do they need to defer or drop-out?
- How big is the gap between what students need and what they have?
- How has financial wellbeing affected students’ mental health?
“I considered deferring a year this year, with everything going on and not having a part-time job and my maintenance loan not covering my rent I worried about finances, but I realised if I deferred this year, I would struggle to go back into education.”
Opportunities for universities and colleges
The report aims to help university and college leadership, support staff, and other HE providers gain a better understanding of the impact that money worries are having on the university experience.
It also explores opportunities this presents, with practical steps that can be taken to protect students’ financial wellbeing, improve their overall health, reduce non-continuation rates, improve attainment standards and attract new students.