More than 9 in 10 (92%) higher education students reported that their cost of living has increased compared with last year, similar to students in early November 2022 (91%).
More than 9 in 10 (91%) students were either somewhat or very worried about the rising cost of living, the same as in early November 2022.
Around half (49%) of students felt they had financial difficulties, with 33% saying these were minor and 16% saying they had major financial difficulties; this is similar to students in early November 2022.
More than two-thirds (68%) of students were receiving a student loan; of those, nearly 6 in 10 (58%) said it did not cover their living costs, while one in four (25%) said that it covered their living costs but only just.
In response to the rising cost of living, 3 in 10 (30%) students had taken on new debt, a significant increase from early November 2022 (25%); of those that did, 71% reported they did so because their student loan was not enough to support their living costs.
More than three-quarters (78%) of students were concerned that the rising cost of living may affect how well they do in their studies; more than one-third (35%) of students reported they are now less likely to do further study after their course has completed.
The average level of life satisfaction among higher education students (5.8) was significantly lower than the adult population in Great Britain (6.9).
Around 46% of students reported their mental health and well-being had worsened since the start of the autumn term 2022; this is similar to students in early November 2022 (45%).
Cost of living and higher education students: England
Dataset | Released 24 February 2023
Experimental statistics from the Student Cost of Living Insights Study (SCoLIS) in England. Includes information on the behaviours, plans, opinions and well-being of higher education students in the context of the increases in cost-of-living.
Students included in this study are higher education students studying foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate level programmes at universities in England.
Adult population in Great Britain
Where possible, comparisons have been drawn with the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) to compare the experiences and behaviours of students with the adult population in Great Britain. The comparisons are used to give a broad idea of the different experiences of each group but the statistics measure data from different timeframes, slightly different questions and different sampling methods so are not directly comparable. The period of the OPN used was 8 to 19 February 2023.
Students in early November 2022
Comparisons have been drawn with the previous wave of the Student Cost of Living Insights Study to compare the experiences and behaviours of students in England between these two time periods.
The period of the previous wave used for comparison is 24 October to 7 November 2022 (“early November 2022”).
The statistical significance of differences has been determined by non-overlapping confidence intervals. A confidence interval gives an indication of the degree of uncertainty of an estimate, showing the precision of a sample estimate. The 95% confidence intervals are calculated so that if we repeated the study many times, 95% of the time the true unknown value would lie between the lower and upper confidence limits. A wider interval indicates more uncertainty in the estimate. More information is available on our uncertainty pages.Back to table of contents
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is conducting a study analysing higher education student behaviour and attitudes while cost of living is rising. This study is called the Student Cost of Living Insights Study (SCoLIS).
The study was conducted between 30 January and 13 February 2023, using an online survey tool and all answers were self-reported. A total of 229,475 higher education students at a selection of partner universities in England were invited to take part via their email address held by their institution. The response rate to the survey was 0.9%.
Estimates in this report are based on weighted counts that are representative of the population of higher education students studying at participating universities in England. Population totals are taken from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) 2020 to 2021 estimates. Estimates are weighted to adjust for sex and age.
Uncertainty in the data
The experimental statistics presented in this bulletin contain uncertainty. As with all survey data based on a sample, they are susceptible to respondent error and bias. This survey has a low response rate of 0.9%, which increases the uncertainty and the chances of non-response bias in these statistics. In some cases, we have used confidence intervals to determine whether differences between students, those aged 16 to 29 years, and the general population of Great Britain, are statistically significant.Back to table of contents
Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 24 February 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Cost of living and higher education students, England: 30 January to 13 February 2023
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 1633 560479