Students risk more debt by studying in London
High living costs have put many students off applying to London universities. This year's rise in tuition fees is set to worsen the financial situation for prospective students.
Like increasing numbers of students, LCC MA student, Francesca Cotton, continues living at her family home in Hampshire to save money.
A two hour daily commute, she is often too tired to work once home in the evening.
“I just couldn't afford the rent prices in London,” Francesca said.
“By living at home I manage to save some money and I don't have to worry about food or bill money at the moment.”
Francesca adds: “My friend's brother finished college with great A levels, but could not face being in that amount of debt, so he has started an apprenticeship instead.”
Where are our jobs?
Repercussions include students taking employment unrelated to their degrees and in which they may have little interest.
With further education unaffordable, they face fewer life choices, remaining under-qualified and under-experienced for their desired profession.
Many students feel short-changed by landlords overcharging for poor quality housing as they see students as irresponsible.
MA student, Ashley Hamer, says the debt-burden has already put many friends off studying in London: “More will be put off due to rising costs of both rent and fees, London is obscenely expensive and you get too little for too much everywhere.”
Iscoleine Fenton, a final year BA Graphic and Media Design student, lives in a flat owned by her parents to cut costs.
Taking on part-time work often leaves students worse off, as she says of her fellow students:
“All the people who have jobs find that their grades always seem to be lower, they just don’t have time because they have to do the job as well as school work.”
Abigail Maden, LCC student
"I did know the rent was higher and you do get a higher loan to study in London, but I didn't know just how high it would be."
Out of Pocket
Like other London students, Abigail Maden, an LCC Journalism student, found herself paying almost double for her accommodation to what she was paying in Leeds last year.
“I pay £125 a week for my rent, not including bills, but I’m in Zone 3 as well, so I also have to pay a lot for travel - it gets quite expensive,” she said.
“I did know the rent was higher and you do get a higher loan to study in London, but I didn’t know just how high it would be.”
“It will be a combination of both, probably the higher tuition fees more,” said final year BA Journalism student, Hannah Shipman.
“It’s a daunting thing for 18 year-old students.”
Many students emphasized, however, some prospective students see the chance to live and study in London as too good to miss.
“I knew that for what I wanted to do, London’s the place to be, so I’ve always accepted that I’ll have a lot of loan at the end of it,” said Hannah Shipman, “It doesn’t really frighten me anymore.”
Students commonly complain of dodgy landlords and paying too much for too little. So what are universities and landlords doing to help them out?
More Students, Less Houses
In Drivers Jonas Deloitte’s London student housing 2011 Crane Survey, over 7,700 new student rooms are being constructed across the city.
The survey also suggests London rents have risen nine percent to an average of £145 a week, 55 percent above the national average.
A spokesperson for the University of the Arts London (UAL) declined to comment on the effect this would have on students.
They did state, however: “University of the Arts London Housing would encourage any student unsure about their tenancy terms to get it checked either by ourselves or at University of London Housing Services (ULHS), who would be able to identify any such issues and advise the student to look elsewhere.”
They also highlighted the University’s housing databases to find student-friendly landlords that have fulfilled the appropriate standards.
The spokesman added: “We are aware that these are difficult times for students and are focusing our fundraising on making even more scholarships available.”
The spokesperson also encouraged reference to the UAL website for more information on the university’s funding and bursaries.
UNITE Student Accommodation declined to comment on the high student rents in the capital, despite many students complaining of their overpriced rooms.
Helen Balmer, Brand Director of UNITE, said: “Students are no different to other consumers in the current environment, as they are looking for quality and value for accommodation.”
“We are aware that these are difficult times for students and are focusing our fundraising on making even more scholarships available.”
UNITE is set to open up even more developments over the next few years outside central London to keep the prices down as much as possible for students.
Balmer said they were also near to university campuses around the city, an ideal location for students.
None of this, however, quite answers what students themselves want to make their lives easier. Which is more pastoral support. More discounts across the board, including bigger travel discounts for students. And less encouragement to take on crippling loans and debts.