31 March 2016

Link between rising tuition fees and depression amongst UK students?

There’s been a 28% rise in UK students seeking counselling whilst at university. Are tuition fees to blame?anxietyImage credit: amenclinics According to newly-released figures, around 43,000 students at top UK universities sought counselling for anxiety and depression in 2014/15, compared with 34,000 in 2011 – the year before tuition fees rose to £9,000.

In order to feel like the high tuition fees are really worth the hassle, today’s students are under pressure to perform well and make themselves as employable as possible in an increasingly competitive job market.

There’s a tendency now to think about your degree in terms of ‘getting your money’s worth’ – but at the current rates, this is nearly impossible!

But are rising tuition fees the only problem?

maintenance loan
We’d suggest that it’s not just the rise in tuition fees that’s putting pressure on students and causing mental health issues, but also a more general rise in UK living costs and frozen maintenance loans that have failed to reflect these changes.

As we found in our student money survey last year, student living costs currently average at around £745 per month, whereas the £480 maintenance loan only covers just over half of this. As a result, 2 out of 3 students told us they struggled to survive off the loan. Sounds pretty stressful to us!

Being a student no longer about “long lazy days”

lazy studentImage credit: Timothy Brown – Flickr.com Dr Ruth Caleb, who is head of Counselling at Brunel University, has also spoken out saying that thanks to rising tuition fees there’s a “cultural change in being a student.”

She states that student life no longer lives up to the stereotype of having “long lazy days” but rather students are under a lot more pressure to perform and are evidently experiencing anxiety as a result.

Dr Caleb claims that student counselling services are seeing an annual rise in demand of around 10%.

Our student money survey 2015 also reflects Dr Caleb’s claim, as results indicated that students are becoming increasingly conscious of how they spend their cash, forking out comparatively less on buying food, clothes and socialising and more on rent as rental prices continue to increase.

Want to talk to someone?

If you’d like to speak to someone about feeling down or anxious at uni, remember that every university has a counselling department, and they’re there to support you.

If you’d prefer to speak to someone outside of your uni, there’s also a range of support services available online specifically for students such as mental health charity, Student Minds – you can check out their support page here.

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