The Labour MP quoted SU Welfare Officer Harvey BrownMark Dimmock / Parliamentary copyright via Flickr

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner has called for the government to address student cost of living, in a Westminster Hall debate on September 19th.

The Labour MP asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education whether he was embarrassed by the government’s lack of action to address students suffering as a result of the cost of living crisis. Zeichner mentioned IFS findings that maintenance loans stand at their lowest in real terms since 2016-17, and that the poorest students are now £1,000 worse off.

Zeichner outlined the ways university students are struggling financially and urged the government to take effective action. The MP’s speech cited extortionate rent and college bills as key factors in exacerbating financial difficulties for students.

The Sutton Trust reports that 63% of university students have spent less on food and essentials, and 28% have decided to skip meals to save on food costs. Almost 1 in 5 students have considered dropping out due to rises in the cost of living, according to OfS polling.

Zeichner’s speech quoted the SU in saying that “students’ experiences of both applying for and receiving necessary funding differ vastly” as a result of “disparity across the collegiate University”.


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In the speech, Zeichner quoted Cambridge SU Welfare Officer Harvey Brown. Brown told the MP that some PhD students have suggested that the only affordable way for them to continue their studies would be by living in a tent. Brown also warns of the pressures facing international students, reporting that many are facing difficulties with expensive visas and complicated visa criteria.

Minister Halfon replied to the criticisms: “I am very proud that we are helping more disadvantaged students to attend university, and that we created 5 million apprentices, increased the number of degree apprenticeships and introduced the apprenticeship bursary”.

Zeichner ended by questioning the lack of media coverage of student cost of living. “I will conclude by observing that there is quite a furore in the papers about the triple lock. Is it not extraordinary that there is not a furore about this generation, which is actually suffering here and now?”, the MP said.