In a survey of students from across the country, 6 in 10 respondents say that financial concerns are affecting their mental health
For many students, balancing their education with a steady income can be a particularly difficult conundrum. The most common solution is to find a part-time job, either on weekday evenings or on the weekends in order to try and make ends meet.
Being able to nab one of these positions is the tricky part as the yearly influx of new faces in university or college areas means the number of potential candidates for any given job outweighs the actual number of positions available.
The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the possibility of financial stability even further out of reach for a lot of students, reducing the number of potential jobs available as smaller companies unable to bear the economic hit have had to close down.
And it seems this has had a knock-on effect on students' wellbeing. In a survey by Nationwide Building Society of more than 1,000 UK students currently at college or due to begin university this year, 84% said they are concerned about finding work, while 61% say that money worries are affecting their mental health.
Interestingly, only 36% of respondents said they will actively look for a job to fund their studies, which could be a indication of how realistic students consider finding a job in the current economic climate.
Among those feeling mentally affected by finding work and their financial situation, most respondents were men.
A shift in priorities
It isn't just in their wellbeing and outlook that the pandemic has affected students though: their plans and priorities have shifted too.
According to the survey, 65% of students beginning university this autumn reported a change in plans due to pandemic. Of these, 20% have changed their choice of university, 20% have changed their course, 19% have postponed their placement, and 17% may not attend university after all.
Among their priorities, completing the course was top for students, in contrast with 'meeting new people' prior to the pandemic.
“The pandemic has had a profound impact on all of us and for many students starting university, it could feel overwhelming," said Tom Riley, Nationwide’s director of banking and savings.
“They will be leaving home for the first time and will have to manage themselves and their finances at what remains a very uncertain time, with fewer part-time jobs available and furlough coming to an end in September.
“As our research shows, student priorities appear to have changed since Covid-19.
“Many have experienced their parents struggle financially or witnessed the struggles of others, and so there’s greater awareness and importance on having financial security more than ever before.”
Written by Marco Ricci
Editor and contributor for Talking Mental Health