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The phrase “cost of living crisis” conjures an image of families struggling to feed their children and keep them warm this winter. However, there is another demographic currently absent from discussion of this emergency, despite half of them already being forced to cut back on food spending: university students.

Most had an unprecedented end to their school years, studying remotely through a pandemic that defined not only A-levels and other final exams but their transition to university – the so-called best years of their lives. On top of all this, they now have to grapple with a financial crisis.

The situation is harder still for working-class students, who are already grossly under-represented at top universities. Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Sutton Trust found that the access rate for disadvantaged students was the lowest at the country’s most elite institutions.

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