Students in Distress: New Reports Shows Majority of Students are Impacted by Housing and Food Insecurity

Australian Greens Senator and Spokesperson for Education, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has responded to today’s release of the 2018 Higher Education Accommodation and Financial Stress Survey that shows high levels of student financial and psychological distress.

The survey found:

  • Nearly two-thirds of international and domestic students (64%) work while they study and domestic students worked an average of 17 hours per week during the semester.
  • Around half (53%) of students reported high to very high levels of psychological distress, which is significantly higher than the population prevalence of psychological distress, where 13% of adults experience high or very high levels of psychological distress.
  • Three-quarters of students with a job (78%) reported that the number of hours they worked had an impact on at least one area of study.
  • More than half of students (55%) reported that financial stress impacted at least one area of study.
  • Around one quarter (26%) of all students in the sample reported that issues concerning being able to afford safe and secure accommodation impacted at least one area of study.
  • A quarter of students (26%) are experience food insecurity and 15% reported experiencing hunger or not eating because there wasn’t enough money for food since enrolling in their current course.

Senator Faruqi said:

“These statistics demonstrate the Government has abandoned students to face a high cost of living and extreme stress on their own. Instead of focussing on studying, students are too often struggling to get by.

“As former academic, I have seen first hand the sacrifices that students make to study, including taking on second or even third jobs while they study. Students should be able to focus on learning, not on where their next meal is coming from.

“We know that rural and regional students that study in expensive major cities particularly face a huge burden in finding affordable housing that allows them the security of a roof over their heads while they study.

“We should all be concerned that more than half of students say that their studies are impacted by financial stress and a quarter experience food insecurity.

“It’s outrageous that students regularly go without food and other necessities while they study. They shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice their studies to work nearly twenty hours a week just to make ends meet.

“TAFE and uni should be free for all. We should urgently increase student payments like Youth Allowance by at least $75 a week and properly fund mental health services to give students the support they deserve,” she concluded.

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