Spring Budget Submission

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About NUS

Through a confederation of over 500 students’ unions, the National Union of Students represents the interests of around seven million students, learners and apprentices in post-16 education and training across the UK.  

NUS believes students are in crisis due to the rising cost of housing, food, travel and other essentials. Our research, and that of others, shows the cost-of-living crisis affecting students from all backgrounds and income levels but having a disproportionate impact on the poor and vulnerable. In a survey of 3500 University students, college students, and apprentices across the UK, NUS found 96% were cutting back as a result of the crisis and more than one in 10 were accessing food banks. 75% said they would not be able to afford course materials without more support.


Key Asks

In light of the information and evidence provided in this report, NUS is asking for the following:

  • Rent Controls. 'The rising cost of rent is a major contributor to the cost-of-living crisis faced by students. Rent controls and a rent freeze would ensure students are not paying excessively high rents and can afford to meet their expenses.
  • Free transport for students and apprentices. Travel is an essential expense for many who need to get to lectures and seminars. Many courses also entail fieldwork, placements and other activities that necessitate travel. Affordable travel can reduce the financial burden on students and their families. Additionally, by providing subsidised travel, the Government would improve accessibility to education for students from lower-income backgrounds, who may otherwise struggle to afford the cost of transportation.
  • Pay Apprentices the National Living Wage. A living wage would ensure those training to enter the workforce or to reskill were able to support themselves and their families while learning. It would ensure financial security and reduce poverty amongst apprentices, help companies attract and retain quality candidates, and encourage social mobility through the ability to retrain.
  • Maintenance loans to keep pace with inflation. The current maintenance loans provided to students do not keep pace with inflation, leaving many students struggling to make ends meet. It is important to ensure maintenance loans are adjusted annually to keep up with the cost of living.
  • Extra help to address the cost-of-living crisis. Additional financial support such as grants, or subsidies, should be provided to all students, across all modes of study, to help them cope with the cost-of-living crisis. This could include targeted support for specific groups of students, such as those from low-income backgrounds.



Our research is supported by both ONS data and a recent survey by The Sutton Trust. The ONS found 91% of higher education students reporting their cost of living had increased, with 50% experiencing financial difficulty. 77% felt their studies would suffer as a result. The Sutton Trust found 33% of students from working class families had skipped meals to save on food costs, while 63% of students overall were spending less on food and essentials. 43% said they are using less electricity or gas in their homes. 24% of students said they were less likely to finish their degree as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

The strain of the crisis is impacting students’ wellbeing, with 90% of the students NUS surveyed reporting an impact on their mental health, and 31% saying the crisis was a major factor in their deteriorating mental health. The ONS support this conclusion, with 45% of students they surveyed reporting a decline in their mental health and well-being since the start of the autumn term of 2022.

Government has committed to properly funding Mental Health provision. For example, in his Bloomberg Speech, the Chancellor said:

“It is time for a fundamental programme of reforms to support people with long-term conditions or mental illness to overcome the barriers and prejudices that prevent them working.”

In this submission we detail how students and young people are suffering the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, and we believe that only by supporting them properly can the Government hope to stem the decline in their mental health.

Unfortunately, evidence suggests students have not benefited as much as other sections of society from the Government’s support package. The £150 rebate to households in England in council tax bands A–D excludes full-time students, because they’re exempt from paying council tax. The rebate was suggested as intended to help households with the rising cost of bills, but as full-time students don’t qualify for it, Save The Student estimates they’ve missed out on over £40 million of support.

The £200 bills credit in October might even have a negative impact on some, according to Save The Student. Those with bills included in their rent won’t benefit from the credit, but unfortunately many will have to repay it. Save The Student  say this will particularly affect the 92% of students in halls of residence that have bills included, and the 86% in private halls that do. They further estimate that, overall, current undergraduate students will pay approximately £60 million more than they’ll benefit from the £200 credit.

The energy support scheme was another key plank in the Government’s response to the cost-of-living crisis. The scheme gave every household in England, Wales and Scotland £400 to help with energy costs. Landlord’s receiving this payment from their energy company are supposed to pass it onto their tenants, but 40% of the students living in private rental accommodation who were surveyed by The Sutton Trust said they did not receive this money, either from their landlord or the energy company. 

Finally, there’s discretionary funding of £144 million for vulnerable people and those on low incomes who don’t pay council tax, or who pay council tax for properties in bands E–H. However, it’s unclear if students will qualify for this.

On the 4th January, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, outlined his five priorities for 2023. The first three focused on the economy and demonstrate the Government’s determination to both balance the books and ensure economic growth.

Indeed, in a speech to Bloomberg on 23rd January 2023, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt emphasised the four pillars of his plan, Enterprise, Education, Employment and Everywhere. With regards to education, he said, “having a good education system is the best economic, moral, and social policy any country can have.”  We wholeheartedly agree and with early reports suggesting he will produce a budget which  focusses on those most in need, we would argue that not only are students one such group, but are key to the economic growth the Government desires.


Further Education

The NUS survey included 1651 students in Further Education and found the cost of living to be a major concern for them. Two thirds of students in FE do not have a student loan, bursary or grant, and those who do say it is insufficient to cover their bills. This is a significant issue, as three quarters of students in FE are seeking additional help and support, and often must rely on family or savings to make ends meet.

Most students in FE are concerned with their ability to manage financially, with almost all cutting back on something. 53% of FE students surveyed reported cutting back on heating, 52% on food and 42% on electricity. 36% were cutting back on transport, while 31% were cutting back on healthcare, such as visits to the dentist. A quarter of FE students reported cutting back on resources needed for their studies, such as textbooks and other material. The cost of running a house is the number one pressure on finances for FE students, with disabled students and parents and carers particularly affected by this crisis.

As with all students, FE students are feeling the strain on their mental health with 87% reporting the cost-of-living crisis as having an impact, and a quarter saying it’s the biggest factor in their ill-health. Students continue to speak of feeling anxious and depressed, they can’t sleep, and are worried about how they will manage to feed themselves and their families.

Data compiled by the Institute of Fiscal studies explains the pressure FE students are under. Colleges and sixth forms are facing several challenges, including rising inflationary pressures, a growing population of 16- and 17-year-olds, the ongoing impact of the pandemic, and changes in the post-16 qualification landscape. Cuts to funding over the past decade have only compounded matters. Between 2013-14 and 2019-20 school sixth forms saw real-terms cuts of 16-17% while FE colleges saw a cut of 8%.

The disparity is due to FE colleges gaining more from new funding streams aimed at vocational qualifications, but even with this extra funding, as the figures show they’ve still witnessed an overall cut and students are feeling the pinch.

“My parents can’t buy me a desk, textbooks, any sort of school equipment or programmes. My father, the breadwinner of the family has a job paying him under 20k and has 5 children to support. Costs were manageable up until covid, then rising prices and inflation.” - Sixth Form Student, Stourbridge

As well as rising cost pressures, schools and colleges will have to educate a far larger number of students in the next few years. The ONS projects the total number of 16- and 17-year-olds in England will grow by a further 6.5% or 90,000 between 2022 and 2024. This would make for a 17% rise between 2019 and 2024 – or an extra 200,000 young people. Given current levels of participation, this would equate to over 170,000 extra students that schools and colleges will need to accommodate. Beyond the current spending review period, a projected 3% rise in the student population between 2024 and 2026 will create additional spending needs.

While the government announced, in the 2021 Spending Review, an extra £1.5 billion in capital investment in the college estate to help meet these costs, and higher student numbers would imply higher funding for colleges and sixth forms through the 16-19 funding formula, the cost will still need to be found within departmental spending plans after 2024. Unfortunately, these became a lot tighter in the 2022 Autumn Statement.

All this poses significant challenges for FE providers attempting to balance budgets, while providing quality education to increasing number of students, and forms the backdrop to the strain FE students are feeling from the cost-of-living crisis.

As already mentioned, education was the second of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s four pillars, as outlined in his Bloomberg Speech. In his speech, the Chancellor said:

“The UK has risen nearly 10 places in the global school league tables for maths and reading since 2015 alone… But there is much to improve….And equally important is what happens beyond school.”

The FE sector is the primary path through education post-16, and as well as offering traditional academic qualifications which potentially lead to Higher Education, it also offers vocational training and Apprenticeships. We believe that the pressures outlined above endanger the Chancellor’s vision and risk preventing the Government from achieving its goals.

In the same speech, the Chancellor went on to say:

“We have around 9 million adults with low basic literacy or numeracy skills, over 100,000 people leaving school every year unable to reach the required standard in English and maths. That matters. We are becoming an adaptive economy in which people are likely to have to train for not one but several jobs in their working lives. Not having basic skills in reading and maths makes that difficult, sometimes impossible.”

FE is the main way such adults can improve their life chances, and yet the spending on Adult Education, mirrors that of the rest of the sector. According to the IFS, spending on classroom-based adult education in 2019-20 was nearly two-thirds lower in real terms than in 2003–04 and about 50% lower than in 2009–10. It stood at £4.4 billion in 2003-04 (2021-22 prices) and fell to £2.9 billion in 2010-11 and to just under £1.5 billion in 2019-20.

Figures compiled by the Raise the Rate campaign show how this endangers the Chancellor’s ambitions: 51% of schools and colleges have dropped courses in modern foreign languages,  38% have dropped STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) courses, 78% have reduced student support services or extra-curricular activities, including significant cuts to mental health support, employability skills and careers advice. While 81% are teaching students in larger class sizes.

But funding for the institutions is only half the solution. As indicated by our survey findings, FE students are increasingly struggling. 29% of FE students surveyed listed housing as the main pressure on their finances, while over a third had less than £50 to spend a month after essential costs were accounted for. In these circumstances, the Governments hopes that education can help power future growth and prosperity are in peril.


Key Ask: Free Transport for Students and Apprentices

Both the NUS survey and the ONS survey show students across the UK cutting back on travelling into classes, because they simply cannot afford the transport costs. Once again, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are hit hardest and whose studies suffer the most. We are calling for free transport for students and apprentices, regardless of age, background or level of study.

In response to rising costs of living and inflation, many countries have begun offering free or reduced fares for public transportation.

A few examples: Spain has introduced free train travel on certain routes; Germany has a 9-euro-a-month travel pass; Italy has provided low-income workers with a one-time 60-euro public transport voucher; Ireland has cut rail and bus fares by 20% while Austria has introduced a €3 Klimaticket (Climate Ticket) that allows nationwide travel. These changes have seen positive effects, such as fewer cars on the road and faster driving times in German cities.

NUS believes the Scottish Government’s delivery of free bus travel for young people aged under 22 is a step in the right direction and we would urge the Westminster Government to replicate this measure. However, many students are not under 22 and face high costs to travel by bus and train to college or university. Indeed, just over half the number of students studying in Scotland’s colleges in 2020-21 were 22 years old or over. NUS Scotland believes the Scottish Government should extend the concessionary travel scheme and NUS UK believes Westminster should ensure the devolved Government has the funds to do this. Furthermore, we urge the UK Government to replicate the scheme UK wide.

For students, who may have limited financial resources, free or reduced public transportation can make a significant impact on their daily lives. Being able to afford bus, rail and tram services can help to alleviate financial burdens and prevent isolation, allowing them to attend lectures and access other opportunities.

It is important to note that the pandemic has put transit systems that rely heavily on fares for funding under immense strain. With many commuters switching to hybrid working, the demand for commuter travel has decreased, making funding models difficult to sustain. Indeed, passenger numbers on UK busses and trains remain 20-30% lower than they were pre-pandemic. Instead of fighting against inevitable changes, serious consideration should be given to following other countries lead and viewing public transportation more as a public good than a service which can make a profit.

With all this in mind NUS believes the Government should consider ways to help students and other low-income groups afford public transportation throughout the UK and provide sufficient funding to the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales that they can do likewise. This may include increasing subsidies or providing vouchers or other financial assistance to those who need it. In this way, we can ensure all members of society have access to the transportation they need to live and work.


Higher Education

In January the Government announced an extra £15 million for student hardship funds. NUS welcomes this money and the recognition that Higher Education students need more support. But analysis by The Sutton Trust demonstrates why this money is insufficient. The £15 million will sit alongside an existing £261 million that universities are able to use for hardship funds. But £41 million of this is reserved for the disabled students’ pupil premium. The rest is ‘to support successful student outcomes’ and includes funding for widening participation and outreach activities. While these are all laudable goals and worthy of funding, it means much of the money is already earmarked and unlikely to be used for hardship funds.

NUS believes hardship funds should be a last resort and are a short-term solution to financial difficulties. We believe a better solution would be to prevent students getting into hardship in the first place. It is for this reason we believe the 2.8% rise in maintenance support for 2023/24 to be inadequate and will leave students over £1,500 worse off. This is because, in line with previous policy, entitlements will rise with the forecast RPIX inflation rate of 2.8%. But the Government has not corrected large cuts to maintenance loan entitlements caused by forecast errors made over the past two years, and neither have they put in place a mechanism to correct future errors. As the IFS has pointed out, this has ensured maintenance support for future students will be permanently lower.

“My university accommodation is too high. I do not have enough money to live on. I have no savings and no financial help from family. All of my maintenance loan goes on rent. Food prices increasing just means less and less money for me to live on.” - University Student, London

In response to the cost-of-living crisis, students are having to increasingly look elsewhere for support. The Sutton Trust found 45% of students were turning to their parents. But once again the poorest students were at a disadvantage with just 38% of those from lower socio-economic backgrounds able to do this. 27% of students had gotten a job or taken on more hours, while 11% were able to access support, such as from university hardship funds.

The ONS data found 48% of students seeking help from their parents, but another 48% who for one reason or another could not. Most worrying, the ONS found 25% of the students they surveyed had taken on new debt, including borrowing more or using more credit. Of these, 66% reported needing to do so because their student loan did not cover their living costs.

NUS believes education should not be dependent on a student’s family income. As a driver of social mobility, education is key. In his Bloomberg speech, the Chancellor reiterated his commitment to levelling up and we believe helping all students, no matter their background, to achieve their potential can help the Government to achieve these goals.

“I’ve found myself doing this precarious juggling act, bouncing debt around different balance transfer cards and having to make considered purchases using services like Klarna. It feels like I’m living in a house of cards and I’m just waiting for them to fall down around me!” - University Student, Plymouth

The ONS data also gives an insight into how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting students’ behaviour, with 29% skipping non mandatory lectures or tutorials to save on costs. 31% were not attending additional course-related events that cost money (such as field trips or conferences). 40% studied more at home, while 27% travelled to their university, college or higher education provider less frequently. 21% attended lectures remotely whenever possible. 19% considered pausing their course and continuing it next year, while another 19% considered changing course type, from classroom-based courses to ones with more remote learning.

“I work 4 nights a week at a nightclub, and can just about afford food shops and essentials, which means I can barely save money. It makes me anxious that I can’t pay off my overdraft or my credit card, which have been maxed out to make ends meet. I can’t even save for my future, and I feel very stuck financially and am even considering a second job. Students shouldn’t have to only have one meal a day due to only being able to afford limited food supplies.” - University Student, Liverpool John Moores

The long-term costs to the taxpayer have been cut substantially by the Government, which has shifted more of the cost burden onto graduates. The exact saving is uncertain, but the IFS estimates the taxpayer cost of issuing student loans to have been reduced by approximately £2.5-3 billion for students starting courses in 2023. But these savings will be partially offset by the expected growth in student numbers, which are estimated to rise by 13% (150,000 students) between 2021 and 2026. So, while the cost to the taxpayer has decreased, the number of students requiring financial assistance will rise, which may substantially offset savings.

But there is an alternative, as demonstrated by the Welsh and Northern Irish Devolved Governments. In October 2022, the NI Government announced a 40% increase in the maximum student maintenance loan for the academic year 2023/24. While in January of this year, the Welsh Government announced maintenance support for undergraduates would increase by 9.4% next year. Both are a stark contrast to the 2.4% increase promised by Westminster, which has already been swallowed by inflation.


Key Ask: Maintenance loans to keep pace with inflation

Analysis by the IFS has shown the real value of maintenance support for English-domiciled students has fallen by 10% in real terms since 2020– 21 and is now at its lowest level in seven years. For the poorest students, this is equivalent to a cut of £1,000 a year, or £90 a month. As mentioned, unless government policy changes, there will be a further real terms cut in maintenance entitlements next year, bringing the loss for the poorest to £1,500 per annum.

There is no mechanism in place for these cuts to be undone, because past forecast errors are not considered when the maintenance entitlements for the following year are set. So, maintenance support for future students will be permanently lower.

This baked-in reduction to the maintenance loan will mean continuing to leave the financial support for students to the vagaries of changing global circumstances and errors in inflation forecasts. Should inflation be higher than forecast, students will lose; should it be lower, they win. This is gambling, and NUS argues it is no way to run a maintenance support system. Students, like anyone else, deserve predictability so they can plan their finances and NUS would urge the Government to rectify this.


Key Ask: Rent Controls

The 2022 National Student Accommodation Survey found the average amount students paid in rent had risen from £146 to £148 per week from last year. While this might seem a small increase, it must be borne in mind that the average student tenancy length is approximately ten months, and so this is an increase of about £87 per year. Once again, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are hit hardest. 6% of students surveyed reported being in rent arrears and the average amount they owed was £635. 5% of those surveyed had been evicted in the past due to unpaid rent, up 1% from the year before.

The rising cost of rent in the private rental sector is a significant concern for students, with rent on average accounting for approximately 45% of monthly living costs. The UK average annual rent for purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) is £7,374, according to data collated by the 2020/21 Accommodation Costs Survey by Unipol and NUS. This is a 16% increase since the last survey in 2018/19. But private accommodation is more expensive, still. Save The Student’s survey found the average weekly rent for University accommodation in the UK to be £147. Private halls were £151, while accommodation in private landlord owned property was £153. With the Unipol/NUS accommodation survey finding 70% of student accommodation in the private sector, rising costs here are of obvious concern.

Landlords can put up rents in response to growing demand in the market, which can place a significant burden on students who are already struggling. Additionally, landlords may increase rents as a means of passing on the inflationary pressures they are facing, further exacerbating the problem for students. ONS data suggests private rents in the UK have risen by 3.2% in the 12 months to July 2022, up from 3.0% in the 12 months to June 2022. But this is disputed by the Deposit Protection Service, whose data suggests rents have risen by 8.21% between Q2 2021 and 2022.

That all said, NUS was concerned to read the results of FOIs submitted by the Telegraph which found students in halls of residence at some Russell Group universities faced rent increases of more than £1,000 per year since the pandemic began. The average student at University College London, the University of Glasgow and the University of Leeds now pays at least an extra £1,000 for university-managed student accommodation each year when comparing the academic year 2022/23 with 2018/19. This can only increase the inflationary pressure on student housing and skews the market further against students.

NUS believes rent controls are desperately needed throughout the UK and would be an effective way for the Government to address these issues. They would limit the amount landlords could charge for rent, making housing more affordable for student tenants. This would ensure students were not priced out of the housing market and would prevent a student homelessness crisis. Rent controls can also help to promote stability in the rental market, as they can prevent landlords from raising rents too quickly or too high. This would ensure students are not forced to move frequently, disrupting their education and making it more difficult for them to succeed. Additionally, rent controls would promote fairness and prevent landlords from exploiting student tenants by charging excessive rents.

NUS believes the situation in Durham in late 2022, where students were forced to queue through the night, is evidence of a housing market that is currently not fit for purpose. We believe rent controls would be an effective means of tackling this.


Key Ask: Extra help to address the cost-of-living crisis.

Hardship funds are an important resource for the worst off and most vulnerable.

Financial difficulties affect a student’s ability to stay in Higher Education and graduate and those struggling may resort to additional debt, such as credit cards or high-interest loans. The stress of financial difficulties can, and do, have serious impacts on students’ mental health. Stark evidence of this is found in the Save the Student survey, which found 82% of students had considered dropping out (up from 76% the previous year) and the two biggest reasons cited were mental health (60%) and money worries (52%).

Providing financial support through targeted hardship funds can alleviate stress and improve the overall well-being of the most vulnerable students; it can help them avoid the trap of additional debt and meet their living costs. Targeted hardship funds help the poorest students focus on their studies, increasing their retention and graduation rates. Higher education is a key driver of social mobility and a 2021 report by The Sutton Trust found that students from low income groups for four times more likely to become socially mobile into the higher brackets if they attend university, while the proportion of disadvantaged students who reached the top income brackets was 22%. NUS believes it is important all students have access to the opportunities higher education provides. Providing additional support to the poorest students, reduces educational disparities and promotes equity.



Four in five apprentices NUS polled were seeking additional help and support with the cost of living and were often forced to rely on credit cards or savings. Their wage was simply not enough to live on.

Almost all were cutting back and the cost-of-living crisis is having a major impact on their lives. Two out of five reported a negative impact on their income, and a third said it was having a negative impact on someone who supported them financially. Over a third believe their employers could do more to support them, including financial support with food and transport costs. This is an important aspect which should not be overlooked, as it is not only the responsibility of the Government but also apprentices’ employers to provide them with support - 

“Let’s put it this way, if I knew we were going to be in a crisis right before I signed my life away for three years on an apprenticeship then I wouldn't have bothered! It seems my company are winning while paying me a low wage, while I'm in more and more debt as the months go by, which I never have been in my life before this. I pay for my own room to rent in a house share and pay for my own travel and food; there is no help from anyone else or the government. I feel trapped. If I could go back in time and not make the decision I did, then I would. I'm unbelievably sad and cannot function properly, which means I am unable to put my all into my training even when I am trying my best. It's a massive shame. The government need to do more to help!” - Apprentice, Portsmouth

Providing financial support not only benefits individual apprentices, but also helps employers retain them and attract new apprentices. Workpays, a major training provider, believes low pay is putting candidates off.

For many young people, despite all the long-term career benefits of an apprenticeship, the salary simply doesn’t add up” - Alex Glasner, Managing Director at Workpays, quoted in FE Week

FE Week has conducted analysis of the Government’s Find an Apprenticeship website and found half of all intermediate level apprenticeships were advertised at the legal minimum of £4.81 an hour. The proportion was only slightly reduced to 46%, when apprenticeships of all levels were looked at.

It isn’t only apprentices and training providers who believe apprenticeships should be paid more, but the Government’s own Social Mobility Commission. In a report from October 2021, they concluded:

We call on all employers to pay apprentices the voluntary living wage wherever possible, which is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation based on a basket of goods. The National Minimum Wage for apprenticeships is the lowest available pay rate in the UK and is too low to live on. Not offering more will exclude anyone who doesn’t have a financial cushion to tie them over.

As with the students NUS polled, apprentices we polled reported a severe impact on their mental health from the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis. 92% said it was having an impact on their mental health, and a quarter said it was having a major impact.

Apprenticeships are clearly important to the Government. In his Bloomberg Speech, the Chancellor said:

“We have made progress with T-levels, boot camps and apprenticeships and Sir Michael Barber is advising the government on further improvements to the implementation of our reform agenda, and we want to ensure our young people have the skills they would get in Switzerland or Singapore.”

We agree with the Chancellor about the importance of vocational routes into the workforce and welcome his interest in apprenticeships. But for the Government to achieve its goal of rivalling Switzerland or Singapore in the quality of training apprentices receive, we believe they must have enough to live on to shield them from unnecessary stress and hardship. In our survey 40% of apprentices were falling back on savings, 38% on credit cards, 32% needed to rely on family, while 27% used credit schemes such as Karna or Clear Pay.

And the impact endangers the Government’s ambitions. 57% of apprentices NUS surveyed were cutting back on heating, 55% on food, 43% on electricity and 42% on healthcare, such as visits to the dentist. 39% were cutting back on transport costs and 17% on equipment they needed for their apprenticeship.

We would urge the Government to ensure apprentices are an attractive option to young people and believe that the best way to do that would be to ensure they are adequately paid.


Key Ask: Pay Apprentices the National Living Wage

In April 2016 the Government introduced a higher statutory minimum wage for those over 25 years of age and referred to it as the ‘national living wage’. In 2021, they lowered the age at which this applied to 23-year-olds. The Government’s intention is for this higher minimum wage rate to reach 66% of median earnings by 2024. This would mean a rise to £10.50 per hour by 2024. Yet apprentices are excluded from this and are entitled to just £4.30 per hour, which is less than half the National Living Wage (currently £9.50, rising to £10.42 in April 2023).

NUS strongly agrees with the Social Mobility Commission that the government should adopt the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage rate, which currently stands at £10.90. This accounts far better for the cost of living and full-time workers who receive the Living Wage Foundation’s rate have earned approximately £2730 more per year than those on the statutory rate (£4777.50 more per year in London).

NUS urges the Government to embrace the Living Wage Foundation’s rate to ensure all workers can afford a decent standard of living. We further advocate for Apprentices to be paid this rate. Increasing apprentices’ pay would free them from financial stress and difficulty, ensuring they can focus on their training.


Devolved Governments

Students are suffering across the UK.  An NUS Scotland survey of over 3,500 students across 34 institutions in Scotland found 60% stressed about money, with 30% saying they were stressed due to money worries all the time. 35% had considered dropping out due to their finances; 56% found it hard to manage financially over the summer; while 68% were forced to work more than 10 hours a week, which meant they had less time to study. 12% of the Scottish students surveyed had experienced homelessness, 8% were using foodbanks, while 31% were relying on commercial debt, such as credit cards, Klarna or loans.

NUS welcomes the Welsh Government’s announcement of a 9.4% increase in maintenance support, the historic 40% increase in the maximum maintenance loan in Northern Ireland and continue to put pressure on the Scottish Government to meet their pledge to increase support to the real Living Wage. NUS asks that the Westminster Government give sufficient funding to four nations so that they might fund education and students as they see fit and follow suit and address the desperate need that English students face. 

However, further cuts and freezes to the budgets for the Devolved Administrations put at real risk the progress made for students across the nations. NUS asks that the Westminster Government give sufficient funding across all administrationsso that education can be funded in line with the values and aspirations of those governments; and that the Westminster government follow the examples of our neighbours and raise funding levels for students.



Students across the UK are under pressure like never before, suffering the effects of an economy ravaged by Covid and spiralling inflation. This has led to an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis. Students need help and they need it now. Much of the UK Government’s response has passed students by. Maintenance support has not kept pace with inflation, and while NUS welcomes the extra money the Government has given to hardship funds, as demonstrated this has not been enough.

The Government has put growth at the centre of its agenda, and we believe that students and young people, the workers of tomorrow, must be central to that vision. We welcome the Chancellor’s recognition of education’s importance, but we believe that only by lifting students from poverty can they hope to reach their potential. It is for this reason that we are hopeful the Government will look favourably on our submission.