Students face academic strain, as well as financial due to cost of living. Photo credit: PA Wire

Manchester’s rent crisis is causing both financial and academic strain for students.

  • Rent prices will experience a further increase by 2024
  • Studies show that extreme circumstances students are facing due to the rent crisis.
  • The average rent in England is nearly equivalent to the average maintenance loan.

A new report has found that students in England are left with 50p a week due to the skyrocketing cost of renting.

The report from the National Union of Students has found accommodation prices have risen by almost 15% in the past two years.  

Over the past decade, student accommodation prices have gone up by 61%, and inflation has increased by 9%, resulting from soaring energy prices and grocery expenses.

Student waving placards and banners march down Wilmslow Road in March 2023.
Savills predicts there will be a 6% increase in rental prices in 2024. Photo credit: Ciara Reynolds

The rent crisis is not just a financial strain; it’s an academic one, too.

Natalia Wcislo, a 21-year-old postgraduate student at Manchester’s BPP University, had to move back in with her family due to unaffordable student rental prices.

Many students, like Natalia, also must work on top of their studies to afford the basics, like travel expenses.

Natalia relies on public transport to travel to university, but she feels that this puts her at a disadvantage.

She said: “Even though it’s a short journey, with the train strikes, I have yet to experience a day where it’s not a delay or cancellation, which impacts on my education.”

According to a 2023 survey by NUS, 32% of students have skipped meals, and 1 in 5 have missed classes due to the high cost of travel.

Natalia expressed that there should be more financial help with students, especially postgraduates, as they cannot take out a maintenance loan.

‘We are now at a crisis point.’

This crisis has put additional strain on students’ already stretched budgets and now takes up most of the average maintenance loan.

A report by NUS found that after students have paid for their accommodation, they are left with just 50p a week to live on.

In the last two years, average student rent has gone up by 14.6%, while maintenance loans have risen by 5.2%.

A recent study by Unipol and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) discovered that the average annual rent in England is £7,566, while the average maintenance loan is £7,590.

Hepi director Nick Hillman said: “The Accommodation Costs Survey has been tracking the real costs of student housing for decades. Compared to years gone by, we are now at a crisis point.”

File photo dated 16/07/08 of university graduates, as nine in ten students starting their first year at university believe the cost-of-living crisis has made them more worried about going to university from a financial perspective, according to a survey.
Students have had to delay going to university or change to a ‘cheaper’ course due to financial concerns. Photo credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

“The rental crisis extends beyond the student sphere

However, this is not just a student rental issue, as the average rent in Manchester has increased by 13.8%.

Natalia voiced concerns about her future, knowing challenges such as high rental prices and housing affordability issues will continue after university.