University students calling for support as rent increases
University of Lincoln students are calling for more financial support from the government as they tackle rising rent prices amid the cost of living crisis. Despite the university freezing its on-campus housing costs at Lincoln Courts in 2022, there has now been a rise from £92 a week to £95.
Students have said they are finding it hard to manage financial costs with issues such as rent price increases and maintenance loans that don't cover the costs. Ben Horner, who is about to start a master's degree in Computer Science, said: "I’ve found it difficult to manage my finances. Rising costs, especially with accommodation, means I have to be extra careful where I spend my money.
"Having to work more and more hours in my part-time job definitely took a toll on me as I was finishing my undergraduate degree. I am lucky for the support I have had from my family, but others aren’t so lucky." Journalism student Belle Phillips said she was being charged £140 a week for her student house on Charles St West, and since moving out it has now risen to £160 a week.
She said: "Student accommodations have increased their prices again this year, but nothing much else has changed. I stayed in a house last year that had no end of issues – the radiators were never hooked up to the boiler, the showers leaked into people’s rooms and there was mould growing in people’s bedding."
Ms Phillips also criticised the "insufficient support" from Student Finance England. Despite a 2.8 per cent increase in maintenance loans in January 2023, the aid still falls below the level of inflation, around 6 per cent.(Image: LDR)
A student qualifying for the maximum maintenance loan, set by the Department for Education (DfE) now receives an annual amount of £9,978. It is expected to cover housing, transport and everyday expenses.
Frustration has been raised by students over the maintenance loan amount, which is determined based on parental income. Ellie Cooper said: "I think it’s ridiculous how it’s based on your parents’ income.
"I only get around £3,000 a year because my parents have good jobs, which is great for them but I don’t see any of their money." Amy Catherall said: "You pay so much money out of your maintenance loan to live in these places but they don’t care about anything except money.
"I had to wait four months for them to come and fix my alarm in my room because they kept saying they had done it but I knew nothing had been done." The new accommodation with the University of Lincoln, St Marks, is priced at £170 per week with an ensuite room.
Sophie Wellham said: "Every time new university accommodation is built, the price increases above the previous one which is not helpful for students or parents when maintenance loans only cover so much. This means a lot of the time it can put pressure on parents to help with university living costs and can create worry for students too."
She added: "If the costs were kept down for university-owned accommodation, more students would want to stay there in second or maybe even third year too rather than feeling the pressure and stress of having to move out after a year and trying to rent a safe, homely-style house."
A spokesperson from the University of Lincoln said: "The University and Lincoln Students’ Union appreciate that times are difficult for students across the country dealing with the cost of living crisis. There is a range of support available for all students at our Cost of Living Hub, including assistance funds, and we encourage them to visit costofliving.lincoln.ac.uk.
"If students are having maintenance loan issues with Student Finance England, the University has a dedicated student support and advice team with student funding specialists who provide advice and practical help with emergency funding and access to further support. Please contact 01522 837080 or email [email protected]."
They added: "Students are also encouraged to visit the Students’ Union Advice Centre for support with housing. The Student’s Union provide a housing accreditation scheme dedicated to improving the standards of student accommodation in Lincoln. Support can be found at lincolnsu.com/accreditation."
A spokesperson from Student Finance England said: "We understand that the cost of living is having an impact on students and there is a range of information on our website to help ensure students have applied for the maximum amount of student finance they are entitled to.
"There is also information on extra support students may need while studying. Students are encouraged to log in to their online accounts for the most up-to-date information on their student finance as well as visit our websites and social media channels for information and guidance."
A spokesperson for the Department of Eductaion said: "We are supporting universities to help students who are struggling financially by making £276 million available this academic year, which institutions can use to top up their own hardship schemes. This is on top of increases to student loans and grants.
"Many universities have done a good job of supporting students who are struggling financially through a variety of programmes, and we urge students who are worried about their circumstances to speak to their university."