80% of UK Students Struggling Financially Due to COVID-19 | Top Universities

80% of UK Students Struggling Financially Due to COVID-19

By Chloe Lane

Updated March 31, 2021 Updated March 31, 2021

Eighty percent of students are worried about how they will manage financially as a result of the coronavirus, a report by the National Union of Students (NUS) revealed last week.

The report was based on a survey of 9,872 students between March 27 and April 6, exploring how the coronavirus is impacting university students.

We spoke to Harrison Reed, a sports broadcasting master’s student at Solent University about how the coronavirus is affecting him financially.

Why are students worrying about finance?

Students have become increasingly worried about the impact of the Coronavirus on their finances, the report suggests.

The pandemic has had a major impact on students’ finances for several key reasons:

  • An overall reduction in income – part time jobs furloughing and making students redundant.
  • Accommodation rent payments – even when students have moved back home.
  • Increased worries about employability after graduation – with graduate employers being more reluctant to hire at the moment and a possible oncoming recession.
  • Students are still paying full tuition fees – adding to worry about student debt.

Reed said: “I’m not immediately worried about my financial situation at the moment because of money that I have saved.” He added, “I’m more worried about whether completing my masters will be possible or not”.

Income reduction

Shop closed due to Covid-19

The majority of students who work part time to supplement their student loan income have had a reduction in pay.

Sixty-two percent of surveyed students held a part time job alongside their studies. The NUS reported that of those working, 87 percent have had to make adjustments to their job which has resulted in a reduction in income. This may be due to being furloughed, made to take unpaid leave, given a reduction in hours or, in some cases, redundancy. 

On top of this, over half of the students surveyed said that the income of those who provide financial support to the student (such as parents or grandparents, etc.) had been negatively impacted by the coronavirus.

Reed revealed how his role working in Solent University’s Student Union organizing welcome back events has been impacted. “I’m working from home now and a lot of my time is spent coming up with plans for what will happen between now and September,” he explained. 


Accommodation can be be a contributing factor to students’ financial concerns.

Accommodation appeared to be a contributing factor to students’ financial concerns.

The report discovered that 72 percent of the students surveyed were worried about their ability to pay rent and 70 percent of students were worried that they would be unable to pay their bills.  

Around half of the students interviewed who were living in rented accommodation had contacted their landlords around related issues, such as rent payments and tenancy length. 

As a result of the coronavirus, 35 percent of students claimed that would like to be released from their rental contracts early. However, 89 percent of landlords have not given them permission to do this.

Worries about future employment

Worrying about employability

Finding a job can be a huge worry for any new graduate, but the NUS survey revealed that a staggering 81 percent of students are worried about their job prospects, and 70 percent said they were concerned about their employability after graduation.

Reed admitted that even though he has a bachelor’s and a master’s, he is still worried about life after graduation. “The jobs just aren’t there,” he explained. “I don’t particularly want to settle for any job – it has to be right for me. There’s less chance of me finding that at the moment.”

For graduates stressed about finding a job after graduation, find out what advice a leading professional has for graduates looking to get hired during the pandemic and take a look at our handy hints on getting hired without leaving the house.

Tuition fees in the UK not being reduced

Paying fees

A government announcement on May 4th said that UK students would have to pay the full amount in tuition fees even if universities are still closed by the Autumn. However, a QS survey found that 75 percent of students said that tuition fees should be discounted if they have to study online

Although fees in the UK remain unchanged, the NUS survey found that 20 percent of students don’t have proper access to online learning and 30 percent don’t feel that their online education is of a good standard or quality.

Reed found the move to online learning challenging: “It’s difficult to stay productive and also keep up to date with the assessment changes.

“Sometimes it feels that the communication isn’t quite there from lecturers to students.”

Find out which universities are changing tuition fees in response to Covid-19.

Impact on mental health

Student struggling with poor mental health

Financial worries can contribute to poor mental health. The report shows that 91 percent of students are worried about someone in their family and financial insecurity can be an unwanted added stress at this time. 

Reed explained that although he is experiencing negative wellbeing, he believes that this may be for a number of reasons: “I think in this current situation, there’s a lot to process with Covid-19. I’m mainly struggling to stay proactive”.

Here are five ways to look after your mental health in lockdown.

Are you struggling financially because of Covid-19? Let us know in the comments below.

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This article was originally published in May 2020 . It was last updated in March 2021

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