Every month, we talk to our student panel to learn more about the obstacles students face and what they need from universities. May came with terrifying news around the increasing cost of living, and we wanted to talk to our Student Panel and see how this might affect their thoughts on higher education. The panel also revealed insight on the importance of open days and how students feel about the government right now. Now, let’s get started with May’s trending topics: 

Eight in 10 students are worried about the rising cost of living

Rising living expenses are an increasing concern for students across the UK. About 80% of students report feeling worried about paying rent, bills and food expenses, while almost 50% claim to have already been impacted by increasing costs. 

Several students have shared how the rising cost of living has negatively impacted them: 

“Wages aren't matching the level of inflation, I'm worried it will take me a long long, time to get into the property ladder”

“We wear blankets inside instead of turning on the heating, to save money”

To combat these increasing costs, more and more students are working. Six in 10 students are working while attending school, with many picking up additional hours or even finding second jobs. 

Another approach students are taking is requesting financial assistance. About a quarter of students have reached out to their university for hardship funds – but nearly half these requests were denied. 

For universities, the main takeaway here is to consider the increasing commitments students have had to take on to be able to simply support themselves through their studies. This will impact their available time to submit work, and the lectures they can or can’t attend. If you offer flexible courses that allow for, and encourage, part-time working - let students know.

45% of students planning on attending university have been to an open day

A major part of the higher education process is offers and open days. Of the students who do receive offers from universities, many will attend an open day before officially enroling. We wanted to know how students applying in 2022 felt about both these steps. Our research found that: 

  • 53% of students attended in-person open days
  • Out of the students who attended online open days, 34% said they would not be interested in an in-person event
  • Students are willing to spend up to £70 on travel/accommodations to attend an open day

Ultimately, open days are an important way to connect with prospective students and encourage them to consider your university. For the best results, you should offer both in-person and online formats – this lets you connect with the widest range of students. 

It’s also helpful to provide housing and food for visiting students to help lower costs. Students who live far away will be more interested in making the trip to your school if they don’t have to pay for hotels or meals. The question we must ask ourselves, how open are open days, really?

85% of students have low trust in the government 

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many student opinions, including those involving the government. Boris Johnson’s party gate scandal, coupled with COVID breaches from the Tories, have severely dented the nation’s trust in politicians. Here are some key insights we’ve gathered: 

  • Only 4% of students actively advocate for the government 
  • 57% of students think British politicians are only out for themselves
  • Students trust politicians to make housing and transport decisions the least 

Despite the general distrust of politicians, students actually do trust the government when it comes to education (which was ranked 2nd in terms of trust). 

So, what does this mean? First, it may be wise to stay away from politics in your student marketing strategy. With so many students not trusting the government right now, you could risk alienating them by aligning your university with certain politicians.

Second, this shows how student opinions are constantly evolving. Any event can change the student perception of universities and what they expect from higher education programs. If you want your programs to appeal to prospective students, you need to stay up-to-date on what they’re thinking. 

The good news is, you can access these insights for free through Akero.

Register today for more student insights.