Students hit by rising living costs and unemployment

08 August 2008 / by Rebecca Sargent
The new term is due to start next month, but fresher's week may not be all that is on students' minds as they are increasingly turning to part-time employment in order to fund their university careers as the cost of living rises.

According to the latest NatWest Student Living Index, almost half of the UK student population will be turning to a part-time job when term starts for the 2008/2009 academic year. Students are also becoming more concerned about the cost of living, as five per cent cited this as a key factor when it came to choosing their university.

Head of student banking at NatWest, Mark Worthington, commented: "Students are increasingly aware of the wider economic climate and this is filtering down into their decisions when they are choosing their university and also when deciding whether to take a part-time job during term time."

However, despite students' ability to gain part-time employment during their study years, it seems the credit crunch is also hitting graduate employment when they have finished university. Recent statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that the average unemployment of graduates is actually higher than the UK average unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent.

Commenting on the statistics, general secretary of the University and College Union said: "Although these figures reveal a slightly higher than average unemployment rate, they do not give the nature of unemployment and have been compiled just six months after graduation. The benefits of a university experience are vast and should not be reduced merely to be employment status six months after leaving."

And, if that is not enough, according to the Financial Ombudsman (a service provided with the intention of settling financial disputes), students are suffering in silence - despite the fact that students and younger people use extensive banking products like credit cards, student overdrafts and student bank accounts, they are less likely to complain about unfair treatment.

According to the Ombudsman, this can be explained in part by the fact that younger people tend to use less complicated financial products unlike pensions, investments and mortgages. However, problems with financial products can have a significant affect on young people who do not have a particularly stable financial situation and who are forced to juggle study and a part-time job just to keep afloat.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd