“Trying to juggle study and work”: University staff reflections on supporting students experiencing financial hardship

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


In 2023, the Secretary of State for Education acknowledged the significant impact of increased cost of living on higher education students and consequently provided £15m of funding support. However, efforts to effectively support students are hampered by a lack of research exploring the impacts of hardship on students and experiences of staff directly supporting them. The current study therefore set out to explore university staff experiences of supporting students with financial hardship looking specifically at their views on the impacts of hardship and the challenges of supporting students when the issue of hardship is raised. Seventy-six academic and support staff from a university in North-East England completed an online survey reflecting qualitatively on their experiences of supporting students since September 2022. Responses were analysed deductively to identify materialist, psychosocial and behavioural factors. Materialist factors included high costs for travel, accommodation, food and heating. Resulting behavioural factors included students taking on excessive hours of paid work alongside their studies, which impacted course attendance and retention. Decisions around engagement in placement and extracurricular activities were also financially driven with some students opting for cheaper options and/or those that fitted more conveniently around paid work. Psychosocially, financial pressures encountered by students led to stress and pressure. This could be exacerbated by stigmatised views on financial hardship making it difficult for students to discuss. Across themes, concerns were raised in relation to specific groups including working class, international and disabled students, which has important implications for widening participation and equality, diversity and inclusion agendas.
Period30 Jun 2014
Event titleAlliance of Working Class Academics: Poverty, Class and Education
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational