The cost-of-living crisis is sending food prices sky high, breaking down the UK’s national health system and forcing us to abandon our petrol-based transport. What does this mean for graduating students?
‘From September, some sacrifices will have to be made,’ says Sandali Jayasinghe, a 22-year-old Master’s student based in London.
Currently finishing her dissertation in clinical drug development, Jayasinghe has already secured a full-time job in her sector due to start in September, but she’s concerned the money won’t be enough to cover everything she needs outside of that job.
The cost-of-living crisis has crept up on us in the UK – although not very surprisingly – following the world’s fight against the coronavirus, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and most recently the country’s government losing the majority of its key leadership.
Brexit also damaged our relationship with many EU countries and collectively we are now facing one of the worst inflation rates in decades.
As the UK currently experiences a surge of over 9% in inflation, which is the average change in the price of typical goods and services purchased by UK households over a year, our energy bills and our taxes keep going higher.
This will hit the unemployed and those just starting their careers the hardest. That includes Gen-Z, especially those of us based in big cities like London, where the average monthly costs for a single person without rent in June were over £900.
Last week, the Guardian also reported that the cost-of-living crisis is causing an increase in student homelessness in the UK. The article cited a survey conducted by the National Union of Students in Scotland, which revealed that 12% of students had experienced homelessness since starting their studies, rising to one in three among estranged and care-experienced students.
The article explained that international students with children are found to be more at risk, but local people from disadvantaged backgrounds are also in need of targeted support.
Simran Rifat, 22, has been a part-time tutor since she was 17. In recent months, she’s been on the hunt for a second one due to raised expenses.
Even with one job, Rifat is struggling to make ends meet – from petrol, to food, to buying clothes. She’s had to take out an overdraft on her student loan due to her unexpected extra expenses.
‘I think the impact mainly came from the Russia-Ukraine conflict when petrol prices went up,’ she says.
But obtaining a second part-time role has been so hard, she says, adding that the equal hike in demand for jobs has meant most employers don’t even respond to her applications.
Come September, after she completes her degree, Rifat hopes she’ll be able to obtain a full-time job so that she can start to live comfortably again. ‘But the job market is a shamble at the moment, so securing one is going to be really hard,’ she notes, adding that the unstable UK political situation might also bring up taxes and affect loans.
Her financial strain is now taking a toll on her mental health.
‘I feel myself losing the motivation and the drive to even do just normal daily things,’ she says. ‘I’m fatigued to the point where I fall asleep on public transport now.’
Jayasinghe also lives alone and while she used to have a part-time job, this did not cover her bills. She quit to focus on her degree and has instead turned to her parents for an allowance from abroad until she starts her job in clinical drug development in September.