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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Brighton chapter.

I know I’m not the only one that has found myself stood at Tesco checkout mouth agape, wondering why the hell some bananas, a pint of milk, a loaf of bread and a chocolate bar has come to £18. I’m sure the term ‘the cost of living crisis’ is not unknown to you, and I know me mentioning it has probably made your eyes roll. We have seen a recent spike in inflation due to numerous recent factors such as the pandemic, the war Russia ensued in Ukraine and Brexit. According to the Office of National Statistics The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 10.1% in the 12 month to September 2022. Domestic gas prices increased by 96% and electricity by 54% from September 2021 to September 2022.

I spoke to various students about their university experience since the cost of living crisis and how it has affected their quality of life. The majority mentioned the price rise they had noticed the most was the spike in food and petrol costs. Individuals that had been a student prior to September 2021 disclosed their rent had gone up by £100 in comparison to the previous years. This year they also struggled to find bills included in rent. It is evident that inflation is being felt by students, but is this affecting the student experience? Here are some student responses to being asked if they had stopped going out to socialise because of the crisis.

Milly: Massively. I don’t see much of my housemates as we are all pretty much working full time. Even if there is a time where we are all free but one of us has been asked to work, we still work because we cannot judge what our monthly spending will be in this crisis. Since coming to university in 2019, this is the longest I have gone since going home to see my family and friends as I cannot justify spending so much on a train ticket especially if i do not know whether it will be cancelled. Equally none of my friends or family can afford to drive or travel to me as they are in a similar situation.

Frances: I’ve definitely changed my spending habits, so sometimes I forgo eating or drinking out if I’m a bit stretched for money that month. 

Half of being a student is the social aspect. It is the last time in our lives where we can have fun freely without the pressing responsibilities that come along with real adulting. I know when I came to university it was firstly to require a degree but secondly to have three years of carefree raving before being thrown into the real world, alone and bewildered. For students that started university between 2019-2021 there is a huge chance Covid already affected their social lives. Now that students are finally free to party until their hearts content, they are being forced to stay in and eat frozen pizza because they simply can’t afford the entry fee and to pay for the copious amount of £10 doubles.

According to the Office of National Statistics 1 in 5 students reported feeling lonely most or all of the time during Covid and it seems that even though we have emerged from lockdown days we are still finding ourselves isolated because everything is overwhelmingly expensive. The cost of living crisis is, of course, not the only factor contributing to the rise of the loneliness era. Loneliness has been described as an ‘epidemic of modern society’ by some scholars. However, we hardly need another factor to contribute to the problem. Loneliness is proven to increase the risk of depression and can therefore have an impact on our overall happiness.

Struggling with money creates a huge pressure in our lives because not knowing whether you are going to have enough money to eat and pay your bills is beyond stressful. Living with such stressful stimuli puts us in survival mode which subsequently has a significant negative impact on our quality of life and mental health. This can manifest in different ways such as anxiety and panic disorders, depression and loneliness. FCA have stated that 60% of adults have reported they are struggling to keep up with their bills and there has been an increased number of people that are in financial difficulty. So, what are students’ thoughts on the financial strain that inflation is causing and how it is affecting their mental health?

Grace:  I’ve become more stressed because I’m finding it hard to keep up with paying for food, travel and rent and that’s a had a knock-on effect causing my depression to get worse.

Milly: My mental health has massively been affected by the crisis. Coming from a low income background money has always been a struggle. I have always supported my family when I could because even the 2008 recession was extremely difficult. Now being a young adult and not being able to socialize when I have just had two nearly three years taken away from me because of the pandemic it is hitting even harder because I can’t afford to travel to see loved ones. 

So far, I must apologise for the bleak read. The reality of today at a glance can feel quite deflating. Although, I propose a positive outlook, where together we can commune and share our woes and how we overcame struggles in order to get through a harder time and look forward to a future with more hope. Here is some advice from fellow students on how they have coped.

Milly: Luckily, I live with some amazing people who will happily spend the evening watching a film and having a cup of tea. Everyone is from different backgrounds, so it is understandable some have it harder than others but regardless surrounding yourself with people who are happy to have quiet nights in making dinner etc as a form of socializing is really beneficial.

Frances: For me, planning my meals for the week has helped to keep spending money on food down. I also plan my lunches, so I don’t spend money on food when I’m out or at uni. I think also taking advantage of reduced food, preparing it and then freezing it has really helped. 

I want to leave you with some practical advice of my own. Firstly, let’s get the boring stuff out the way, the government have put schemes in place to help people during the cost of living crisis. However, when asked the majority of students said they were completely unaware of these. An example of one way the government are helping is giving £66 back from your gas and electric bill, it is easy to apply for and really takes some pressure off. Here is the link https://www.gov.uk/cost-of-living to all the help the government are providing during this time. You can take a look and see what you are eligible for. Remember you’re never alone, speak to a friend or a family member when you are feeling overwhelmed. Together we can get through this.

Now for what university is really about… Don’t let the cost of living crisis stop you from living out those blurry nights that we can’t quite remember but never forget. My first piece of advice to save money while going out is… pre drink! I know I’m stating the obvious, but it really does help. Don’t just pre drink though, pre drink smart. Going to your local corner shop, coop or Tesco Extra could put you out of pocket. Go to your local Aldi or Lidl to buy alcohol because who doesn’t love a £3.50 bottle of wine ;).  

Secondly, make use of apps! Download Dusk https://www.dusk.app/, it is an app that you can get free drinks on in selected bars in your area and win rewards to unlock deals. It can save you loads of £££ and also gets you to try out new places and explore your uni town. Also, really utilise Unidays, because I know I didn’t use it enough. There are some really great deals on there and you won’t have it forever.

Last of all, find the best student nights! There are tuns of brilliant student nights in Brighton and most university towns. There is normally a good selection so you can explore what you like and there will normally be something to your taste. If you are a fellow Brightonian, my personal favourite is Cassa Blanca’s student nights on a Wednesday and Thursday. Mainly because of the £2.50 doubles before 12 and £3.50 for the rest of the night but also because of the live music and all-round good vibes. I am ashamed to say that I’ve bought four drinks at one time to make the most of the deal and I don’t recommend because it isn’t very practical, I have to tell myself now it’s a marathon not a race ;). Times are hard but it doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold. Find what works for you and always talk to people for advice or just a listening ear.

I am an English Language and Creative Writing graduate. I write feminist short fiction and poetry and try to give a voice to marginalised women and use my writing to be an advocate for women's rights. In my spare time you could find me watching Netflix, walking my dog or reading...
milly struthers

Brighton '23

I am a female van traveller with the desire to explore the world and interact with a range of people and engulf myself in new cultures. Reflecting shared female and queer issues across all race and ethnicities within my articles Creating a safe and open space in my writing where individuals can relate or emphasis with what is being written and most importantly feel connected and that their not alone in their experiences.