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A new report by the Higher Education Policy Institute ( explores how universities are responding to the severe effects of the cost-of-living crisis on students.

The new research by Josh Freeman, Policy Manager at HEPI, How to Beat a Cost-of-Learning Crisis: Universities’ Support for Students (HEPI Report 163), is based on a statistical analysis of 140 university responses and interviews with nearly 60 university professionals.

It finds that higher education institutions have adopted a range of strategies to support students, through hardship funds, food and drink discounts and support with health such as sanitary products, coordinated by cost-of-living ‘working groups’, new committees not bound by the usual university processes.

The report probes the rapid responses of two universities with case studies. The University of Manchester sent £170 cost-of-living payments to more than 90% of students, setting up enquiry forms which handled more than 16,000 queries. At Buckinghamshire New University, a programme to provide free activities saves students up to £200 a month, and those who received its hardship fund had a 7% higher progression rate than those who did not.

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