Cost of living crisis: 8% of students in Wales experienced homelessness - NUS survey

NUS Wales found 8% of students surveyed had experienced homelessness Credit: Alamy

The cost of living crisis has seen 8% of students in Wales experience homelessness, a new survey claims.

Half of those who had been homeless had experienced it for over a week, the survey by the National Union of Students Wales (NUS Wales) found.

Almost a quarter of students in Wales said they had been unable to find suitable, affordable accommodation in the 2022-23 academic year.

NUS Wales carried out the survey of 570 students over the summer, finding that students reported living further away from their education provider or commuting from home to make ends meet.

It also found that 32% of students said they had been unable to pay rent, with 36% saying the same of bills.

With the ongoing cost of living crisis, students were found to be picking up extra work shifts to make ends meet.

The majority of students surveyed work alongside their studies, with one in five working over 20 hours a week. Out of those who do work alongside their studies, 64% said that it had negatively impacted their education.

On top of this, one in five students in Wales were found to gave missed in-person classes due to the cost of transport, with 9% missing online classes due to the cost of broadband or equipment - such as laptops.

Students had missed classes due to the cost of equipment, such as laptops, the survey found Credit: Unsplash

NUS Wales has called on the Welsh Government to do more to support students, including apprentices on the £5.28 minimum wage.

Earlier this year, the Welsh Government announced a rise of 9.4% for the 2023-24 academic year, subject to new regulations.

The amount the average full-time student can claim in maintenance grants and loans will increase from £10,710 to £11,720, with the change set to apply to full-time and part-time higher education students who began a course on or after 1 August 2018.

Orla Tarn, President of NUS Wales, said: “The fact that not much has changed for students in Wales, who continue to be left with so little to live on, should be a real red flag for the Welsh Government that it will need to act again to support students in 2023-24. 

“One of my main concerns continues to be students’ mental health. We know that money troubles, housing issues and poor work-life balance can all be detrimental to your sense of well-being, and during the cost-of-living crisis all three have become more pronounced for many students. 

“The Welsh Government acted last year by raising the undergraduate maintenance package and the EMA for further education students, but swathes of Wales’ student population – including students from outside of Wales, postgraduates and apprentices – have not benefited."

The Welsh Government announced a rise of 9.4% for the 2023-24 academic year, subject to new regulations Credit: PA

Ms Tarn urged ministers to take students from outside of Wales, postgraduates and apprentices into account when designing support schemes and to take action to "get student rent under control."

A Welsh Government Spokesperson said: "The cost of living crisis is having an unprecedented impact on all aspect of society and the figures outlined in the NUS report are concerning.

"Earlier this year, we announced a increase in student maintenance support by 9.4% for the 2023 to 2024 academic year.

"Living costs support is rising in line with the National Living Wage, which is unique to Wales. In contrast, the UK Government has announced a 2.8% increase for students ordinarily resident in England.

"We have also made substantial additional funding available to support cost of living measures for student at Welsh higher education institutions. 

"We continue to provide a highly progressive student finance system. Welsh undergraduate students have less to repay on average than their English peers as they can access our generous living costs package of grants and loans."