Tears for fears but not for long

We’re learning lots about today’s students and their hopes (and fears) of going to university when we meet during our school presentations and in our workshops. The results of an online survey that the sixth formers complete make interesting reading.

Many have underestimated the size of the student loan for a three year degree living away from home. The total is nearer to £50,000 instead of the £30,000 that many students think they will have to borrow to cover tuition fees and living expenses. However, they do know that parents will be their biggest source of income after the loan – but do the parents? Accommodation costs are rarely covered by the maintenance loan so a top up to some level is required and this money needs to come from somewhere, unless you have been saving for the past 18 years! We remind students that some understanding is required on this front as families may have to trim their sails to help out especially if there’s more than one child at uni at the same time. Loans are means tested by income alone, no matter your expenditure – mortgages, travel costs or having two or more children to support at university isn’t taken into consideration.

Would-be students think that they will spend most of their money on going out and alcohol (once they’ve paid their rent) but in fact it’s groceries. Our workshops show how to be thrifty but still eat well and healthily. No one wants to be one of the 77% of students who eat processed food including takeaways and ready meals for dinner. (We do know that sometimes only a bag a chips or Doner kebab will hit the spot – hopefully not every day!)

During our workshops we often hear exclamations of “we never knew how to do that” (cleaning the toilet, in case you wanted to know); and “I wasn’t sure how to wash sheets” and “I get you have to change your bedlinen regularly”. We want them to keep their deposits from their rental homes – too many students lose out simply because they won’t or don’t know how to keep a house clean. When they leave our workshops they are enthusiastically looking forward to trying out a bit of cooking and at least knowing the theory of survival when they wave goodbye in October. Can’t argue with that.

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