Birkbeck, University of London: Cost Of Living Crisis Is Affecting Young People’s Decisions On Where To Go To University

A survey commissioned by Birkbeck of over 2,000 prospective students has shown that between 78% and 88% admit that the current economic climate will influence their decisions around university. This is also reflected in a study this month by popular online forum, The Student Room, that showed 82% of students said they were affected by the cost-of-living increase, with 34% reconsidering their plans. This comes as millions of students up and down the country eagerly await their A Level results this Thursday (18 August).

Although historically university placement has been an opportunity for young people to move away from their hometown or city, the research shows that only 1 in 5 (17%) feel that this is important at this moment in time. Rising living costs mean students are considering saving on rent, food, and other expenses by living at home with parents or carers whilst they study. Study International estimate that students need £343 a week to live in London. Only 26% believe that moving away to university would give them a different educational experience and social life, compared to going to a local university and maintaining their current living arrangements.

Students are also looking to offset university costs by doing paid work whilst at university, with 50% of respondents saying they’d look to get a job whilst studying. Birkbeck students have demonstrated that this leads to higher salaries on graduation. The Higher Education Statistics Agency reported that Birkbeck graduates earn among the highest salaries in the country, with 50% of graduates earning over £30,000 per year, 6 months after graduating.

The research also shows a potential shift in how important flexibility is to modern students. The research suggests many potential students are looking for flexible university courses that have a blend of in-person and online teaching, to fit around their lifestyle, including working full or part time. 47% of respondents actively wanted evening courses to allow them to work during the day.

Finally, the research suggests that Londoners are among the most sociable in the country. Across the UK only 18% of people felt hearing that a university had a good social life would affect their choice but, in the Capital, this jumped to 24%. People in Aberystwyth (25%) and Coventry (32%) would place the most importance on there being a great social life at their place of study.

Lynn Grimes, Director of Marketing and External Relations at Birkbeck, commented: “Birkbeck, as an evening university, attracts many students who work during the day, and we’ve been doing this for nearly 200 years. Studying whilst working helps students minimise the debt they leave university with when they graduate, as well as giving them a step up on the career ladder.

“We still predominantly teach from our campus in central London but we complement this with online learning opportunities that students can access at times that suit them, so they can fit studying around their other commitments. We have found that providing excellent online learning opportunities boost students’ exam results.

“We have undergraduate courses available through Clearing, and we expect our phonelines to be particularly busy because of students wanting to work whilst they study.”

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