Cardiff Socialist Students at 1 Feb strike rally. Photo: Ross Saunders
Cardiff Socialist Students at 1 Feb strike rally. Photo: Ross Saunders

Mohammed Osman, Surrey Socialist Students

Being a student is hard. You constantly have to worry about deadlines and upcoming examinations. Balance that with any extracurriculars you take part in, while also trying to increase your employability – trying to find placements, internships and whatever else you can do to stand out as a worthwhile candidate in the increasingly saturated job market. Now imagine being a broke student which, for many of us, is the case.

More often than not, the student loan you receive is simply not enough to cover the cost of living. I’m ‘lucky’ enough to come from a poor enough family to receive the maximum maintenance loan, which will be £10,277, for 2024-25.

I study in Guildford and, unfortunately for me, there’s no student accommodation available. If I’m lucky enough to find a house on the cheaper side in Guildford, where housing prices rival London, I’ll be left with a total of £1,877 after paying rent. That’s £1,877 to last me an entire year! With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to run rampant, the money I have left will mostly go to bills, leaving me pennies to figure out how to feed myself. I’ll likely be forced to find a job so that I can afford to feed myself and enjoy the little free time I’ll have left after all that. And I’m one of the lucky ones.

Many students whose families are only slightly better off than mine get a significantly smaller amount, often resulting in prospective students being forced out of the opportunity to study. Had the threshold for maximum student loans gone up with inflation since 2016 it would be at £32,535 instead of the measly £25,000 it currently sits at, and more students wouldn’t be in such a serious hole.

The burden of student loan debt also disproportionately affects poorer students, who graduate with £63,000 in debt compared to their wealthier counterparts leaving with £43,600. Wealthier students are also much likelier to get higher-paying jobs in the future, while students like me are much more likely to be stuck with this loan, paying off the interest until it’s eventually written off in my fifties.

This system is broken. It’s unfair and unsustainable and has led to universities caring more about the number of international students they can bring in, whose fees have no cap, and less about the overall quality of education.

We need free universities and living maintenance grants rather than our current system, where universities are run like corporations and top management can make massive salaries, while students are forced to live off bulk-purchased noodles.

Socialist Students says:

  • End the student cost-of-living crisis – we need free education
  • Replace maintenance loans with maintenance grants which cover all living costs
  • Scrap tuition fees, cancel all student debt – make the super rich pay