For people across the UK, the current cost of living crisis and consequent rising rent and bill prices are causing significant financial pressures. For students in Bristol, choices are having to be made between leisure costs and household overheads. Expenses such as going out for dinner, paying for extra-curricular activities and simply having a coffee outside of the house are being sacrificed in a time of ultra-expensive utility bill prices. Not only are financial struggles negatively impacting students’ lifestyles but also their university capabilities. When speaking to Niamh, a 3rd Year Social Policy student, we discussed the hardships of balancing productivity and coping with the financial and physical pressures of rising bill prices. Struggling to focus in a cold home that isn’t as comfortable as it should be, all because heating prices are unaffordable, is a significant issue facing students currently.
“I have to work in bed now rather than at my desk because we can’t afford to have the heating on, but I’m so much less productive”– Niamh Curtis
Experiences like this have led to the question of whether it is cheaper to study at one of the many coffee shops across the city, than it is at home. Bristol is currently considered to be the fourth most expensive city in the UK when it comes to household utility prices with average monthly costs of £231. Whilst this depends on the number of occupants and amount of heat, electricity and gas used, students can look to be paying around £7-£8 per day on their energy bills alone. When going to a café, overheads can be supported through the purchase of a coffee or two. Thus, this could be a more affordable option for students to be productive and stay warm whilst studying. At Mocha Mocha on St Michaels Hill, a vanilla latte with soya milk (has to be someone else’s favourite too, right?) currently costs £2.89, with the store offering a 20% student discount.
Elsewhere in the city rising costs are also affecting coffee prices, taking them to highs of £5, however around campus student discounts may just make it more economical to stay out of the house to work for the day. In fact, the University of Bristol has implemented its own cost of living support for its students in the city. All Source cafés and the Balloon Bar, currently offer hot drinks and hot meals such as soup and jacket potatoes for under £2, all you need to do is take your U-card. For students therefore, utilizing these cheaper options on campus may just be more financially accessible than at-home alternatives.
Student populations across the UK are at the risk of being forgotten in the cost-of-living crisis and the tolls that financial pressures can have on productivity, mental health and general wellbeing are vast. Please do not hesitate to check out the University’s cost of living support at https://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/campaigns/cost-of-living/