The broke student phenomena

Young people go to university with the hopes to gain a good future for themselves and what they are returned with is an insurmountable amount of pressure and financial debt

When thinking about student life, one often imagines the glamour of freedom, the joy of following intellectual pursuits, the idea of sitting in a giant lecture hall in the middle row, the smell of old books in the library and waiting for a friend after class to grab lunch. This is what we see on countless brochures.

But… you will come out of university with a debt of a minimum of £27,000, you will most likely find it hard to find a job straight after university due to current job climates and competition; to get little help from your university you will have to fill out long-winded forms. The intellectual pursuits you looked forward to exploring may be less enjoyable because you are working the rest of your hours away just to afford rent, food and electricity. Want to grab some lunch? It’ll be difficult to find anything nutritious because the cost of food around campus is four times the price it should be and travel costs money too.

I am not dictating that university is superfluous and terrible. I am questioning the economic system of university.

Young people go to university with the hopes to gain a good future for themselves and what they are returned with is an insurmountable amount of pressure and financial debt that makes it hard to just sit back and enjoy what university must give. This year alone, I have gone through a minimum of five weeks of industrial strike action—more than a month in an eight-month course. This is what I am paying an upwards of £27,000 of, this system must change. Students must pay a reasonable fee, and professors must be paid a reasonable amount.

On university websites, we do not see the one in four students that go without food and necessities because they cannot afford them. We also do not heed how the living crisis will affect students: 47% of students are cutting back on social events and outings due to high living costs, while 23% of students cannot afford the materials required for their courses. Mental health is low around Christmas and summer due to exams, then they wait apprehensively for their grades to apply to schemes, jobs, and internships, only to be hindered because strike action means that their professors cannot mark their work due to their own pressures that the current university economic standards provide.

Students are the beginning of an economic system. If we crush them right before they begin, what does that say of the system around us? Right now, students are not being seen behind the large payments they give. As funny as it sounds, students are the babies of the economic world, their bricks are debts and living costs with a system that does not listen. Though their bricks are metaphysical, they often cause very physical impacts on the students, such as some of the issues I have highlighted above.

In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, it hit me that Raskolnikov was the original broke student. He ran out of money to subsidise his education, leading him to stew in debts and mental illness, murdering his pawnbroker to retrieve an heirloom he had to give her for some rent money. Now, students will not rampage the streets and murder for money, especially amidst balancing several part-time jobs, Dostoevsky still demonstrates the struggles of a student life, and the great amounts of pressures, economic deprivation, and health concerns of a student.

University still provides minds the place to explore and discover what people are passionate about. It gives place for new voices, and enjoyable activities for students to organise and partake in. Of course, it is not just a shroud of darkness keeping out the light of a bright future, it gives the chance for a bright future. I just wish that the journey was not as difficult as it currently is. I just wish that our system heeded the people behind the cheques. I wish for the broke student phenomena to no longer exist.