Coronavirus: Quarter of UK students have had to 'sell possessions' to survive financially

Saleha Riaz
·2-min read
A quarter of students have lost a job or income and almost four in five are worried about their graduate job prospects, according to a survey. Photo: Getty Images
A quarter of students have lost a job or income and almost four in five are worried about their graduate job prospects, according to a survey. Photo: Getty Images

Almost one in four UK university students have had to sell possessions to manage their finances during the coronavirus pandemic, a survey conducted by student advice website Save the Student revealed. It also highlighted the impact on their mental health.

Around 35% said they would consider selling their possessions in an emergency. Meanwhile, 39% have turned to their parents for financial help, 22% used overdraft facilities and 13% used credit cards. Some 5% turned to gambling and 3% to sex work, the survey of 2,076 university students in the UK in October and November showed.

It also found that a quarter of students have lost a job or income and almost four in five are worried about their graduate job prospects.

Chart: Save the Student
Chart: Save the Student

“Particularly with many companies unable to continue recruiting and running as usual this year due to the coronavirus restrictions and consequent economic impact, the pandemic has had a big effect on how students feel about getting a job after uni,” the report said.

Meanwhile, two in three students said their mental health has suffered due to COVID-19.

Chart: Save the Student
Chart: Save the Student

With just under three in 10 students saying that they've had, or know someone that's had, COVID-19, the rates of coronavirus across universities appears to be widespread. Around 42% said they have had to self-isolate.

The report pointed out the importance of considering whether the high numbers of students needing to self-isolate is contributing to the high rates of mental health issues, given loneliness is a significant worry.

On top of the 49% that said they are “really worried” about this, a further 36% said they have mixed feelings about it. Only 15% of students in the survey said they are not worried about feeling lonely.

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Jake Butler, Save the Student’s money expert, said “students are among the groups worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic.”

He warned that the UK “could be creeping towards a huge and very damaging mental health crisis among students” and urged for the government and universities to take action “in a number of key areas” including student accommodation, student funding and tuition fee refunds.

A report from last month showed that with students being advised to stay on campus to limit COVID-19 outbreaks caused by travelling home, they could be set to lose over £200 ($259) worth of “free” meals over the year.

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