Briefing - Cost-of-living support for students

17 January 2024

With rising living costs impacting every aspect of students’ lives and experience at university including their studies, ability to form social connections and their mental health and wellbeing, Russell Group universities are offering both financial and non-financial support to assist students experiencing financial pressures.

As well as targeted financial support for at-risk students through bursaries and hardship funds, our universities are making sure students have access to warm spaces and subsidised food, as well as increasing campus employment opportunities and employing trained money advisers. These initiatives are funded from universities’ existing budgets.

The financial challenges faced by students are being compounded as the Government has failed to raise maintenance loans in line with inflation. Russell Group analysis shows that, should the DfE uprate maintenance loans for 2024/25 by the most recent projection for inflation Q1 2025 (2.5%), a full-time student living away from home outside London will receive £10,244 per year, leaving them £1,906 short of the £12,130 the loan would be if the Government had raised it in line with inflation since 2020/21 (see Figure 1).


Figure 1: If DfE had increased the student maintenance loan in line with inflation since 2020/21, students would be £1,906 better off.

The Russell Group is calling on the Government to work with universities in helping to ease the growing financial pressures on students. To do this, we are calling for an uplift to maintenance loans to reflect actual average inflation each year andthe reintroduction of maintenance grants for the most disadvantaged students to complement the range of support on offer from our universities.

The Government should also review the parental earnings threshold below which students are eligible for the maximum level of maintenance support. The threshold has been frozen in cash terms at £25,000 since 2008. Had this threshold increased with earnings it would now be closer to £35,000 and more students would be eligible for the maximum level of maintenance support.

You can read the full briefing, including examples of financial and non-financial support provided by Russell Group universities to assist students experiencing financial pressures, below.

Briefing - Cost-of-living support for students.pdf

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