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.
“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.
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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