The country continues to face a cost of living crisis that is having a detrimental impact on university students. The Student Academic Experience Survey (2023) showed that 76% of university students feel that the cost of living crisis has affected their studies.

Maintenance loans have only increased by 2.8%, but this falls short of the current rate of inflation which was 10.7% as of January 2023. Outrageously, rent for student accommodation has increased by an average of 14.6% over the past two academic years, according to a new report from Unipol and the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi). With such high rates, rent now swallows up almost all of the average maintenance loan. Back in June, Hepi found that 55% of students are now relying on paid work, compared with 45% in the previous year. The impact on students is clearly huge and we believe you deserve more support during this crisis at a government and university level.


Work we're Doing

As your Students’ Union, we are working proactively to help reduce the financial and mental burden caused by the crisis. From lobbying the University to running our own initiatives, there are a number of different ways we are working to support you through this challenging period.

We've put together this hub to let you know what support is available and to keep you up-to-date on our Cost of Living Action Plan.

 

University work

Maia Jarvis, SU President (2022/23) lobbied the University to ensure the extenuating circumstances policy fully supports students and covers ‘ financial hardship’ as a reason for ECs. Read Maia's blog post to find out more.

Last year, Shrijeet Shrey (VP Education, 2022/23) lobbied the University to remove hidden costs when courses are advertised. You're already paying a significant amount of money to study so it's only fair that you're aware of all of the costs that come up before you decide to sign up.

Check out the University’s Cost of Living Hub.

If you're struggling financially, the University can help. Find out what support is available from the university.

As a Royal Holloway student, you can benefit from discounted childcare with Bright Horizons based in Englefield Green between 07:30 and 18:00. With full and part-time priority places agreed for Royal Holloway students, hopefully this will lighten the load.

Union Initiatives

Free period products, STI kits and pregnancy tests are available in the Advice Centre on the first floor of the Students’ Union building – you can pop in and pick them up between 10:00-16:00, Monday-Friday.

We run loads of events across our venues to help you enjoy the social side of university life. To help make things more affordable, we run a number of offers across the week - from £1.95 drinks at Toast to double down deals on food and drink at The Packhorse every Tuesday. This year, we've also introduced Thursday 3s and Saturday 7s at The Packhorse - two nights targeted directly at combating the impacts of the Cost of Living Crisis on your disposable income. Take a look at what's on with our events calendar.

If you’re looking to develop a new skill, flex your creative muscles, or simply unwind after a day of lectures, you’ll find something in our calendar of Give It A Go events. These are smaller-scale events (many of which are completely free) that are predominantly alcohol-free and focused on you meeting new people in a fun, relaxed and welcoming environment. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, culture vulture or just love a bit of art and craft, we'll have something for you.

This year, we introduced our brand-new app RHSU Order which you can use across our venues (Tommy's Kitchen, Medicine, The Packhorse, Union Shop and the SU Venue) to order, collect points and earn rewards that can be redeemed against future food and drink purchases. You can download the app from Google Play or the App Store. To say thanks for spending in our venues, we're offering 20% off your first order (exclusions apply) when you download the RHSU Order app! Scan your Loyalty QR code on five transactions between 12 February - 10 March and you'll also earn a £2.50 voucher to redeem against your next purchase (valid until 31 March).

We know that sometimes the cost of joining a student group can feel overwhelming, especially if your budget is tight. We also know that joining a student group can be one of the most rewarding parts of university life. It can introduce you to new people, perspectives and passions, and we’re really keen to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to experience that. That is where our Student Group Access Fund comes in - you can request up to £150 each academic year if you need it, to cover things such as group membership fees, kit and competition entry.

Whether you're on committee or a member of a club, check out this blog on how to overcome financial barriers when getting involved in a student group.

Community

Our Advisors have put together an article that covers some of the costs that come when searching and signing for a house so that you know what to expect when you start house-hunting! You can also book an appointment with the Advice Centre to help you budget for the year ahead, especially when you're considering signing up for a new house.

Launched in February 2012, the Runnymede Foodbank is led by the Beacon Church with assistance from other churches and groups in Runnymede & Weybridge, including St John’s Church, Egham; Addlestone Baptist Church; Kings Church, Addlestone & St James’ Church, Weybridge. They aim to provide a lifeline for those experiencing financial hardship, who are desperately short of food. Reach out to the Advice Centre to get your voucher.

We've secured a discount from LOVESPACE who can provide solutions for all your storage needs. All you need to do is head to their website and enter the code RHOL10 at checkout.

Work With Us

Each year, we employ hundreds of students in paid part-time positions across the Union to help us achieve our aims: improving your education, making campus fun, looking after your wellbeing, making you more employable, and empowering you to change the world around you. Check out our Work With Us page for the latest opportunities. The Careers page on the Student Intranet is also a great place to find jobs and get help with applying.

National

Find out more about NUS's national campaign that is calling for rent controls, free transport, paying apprentices the living wage and increasing maintenance loans with inflation.


Cost of Living Action Plan

University

Action Progress
Lobby for a student job strategy In progress
Improved university financial wellbeing webpages Complete
Explore out-of-term storage options that are cost-effective Complete
Explore cost-effective options for childcare for parents and carer students Complete
Explore possibility of loyalty card at Cafe on the Square Not started
Reach out to Careers service about personalised support for international support in applying for part time jobs Not started

Community

Action Progress
Explore discounts for students with local bus companies In progress
Promote the local support services that are available Not started
Lobby the council to stop charging part-time students council tax In progress
Reach out to local businesses to see if they can offer student discounts In progress
Reach out to local businesses about offering part-time jobs to students In progress
Lobby to become able to distribute food bank vouchers from SU Advice Centre for Runnymede Food Bank Complete

Student Opportunities

Action Progress
Host an event for student groups to discuss ideas around the cost of living crisis Complete
Ensure cost of living is listed as a criteria point within the student group funding framework Complete
Conduct an analysis of the cost of student group memberships and ensure this is reflected in the amount you can apply for from the Access Fund Complete - Launch in 2024/25
Promote ‘hidden costs’ for student groups In progress
Create a student group events calendar Complete - Launch in 2024/25
Deliver a secondhand sale at the end of the year for kit, household items etc. Not started

Union Initiatives

Action Progress
Promote the RHSU Loyalty Card which is a way for students to get money back when spending in our venues Complete
Run a Student Money campaign In Progress - w/c 11 March
Collect student testimonies and data to aid in lobbying and campaign work In progress
Introduce regular cost of living tips in the SU newsletter Complete
Run a free lunch event In progress
Explore the possibilities of expanding the access fund to other SU activities Not started

National Campaigns

Action Progress
Join the national campaign on increasing student maintenance loans with inflation Complete
Reach out to our MP for their support regarding increasing maintenance loans with inflation and support for students In progress

Share your story

Top tips

 

As we deliver on our Action Plan aims, we will keep you and this page updated so keep an eye out!


Events

Cupcake Decorating
4th March 1pm - 4pm
Tommy's Lounge
A Give It A Go favourite... cupcake decorating! Get crafty after classes and decorate a cupcake!
Free | Give It A Go | Women's History Month | Food and Drink | Health & Wellbeing | Cost of Living
Reptile Experience x Leadership Elections
6th March 1pm - 3pm
SU Venue
Slither on down to the SU for an afternoon of getting up close and personal with some scaly friends! While you're here, cast your vote and have your say in the Leadership Elections!
Free | Alcohol-free | Give It A Go | Elections | Day | Health & Wellbeing | Cost of Living
Build a Mini Garden
14th March 1pm - 4pm
Tommy's Lounge
Now the spring is in the air it's the perfect time to get some greenery growing! Chose from herbs, flowers and tomatoes and transform a pot into your own personal garden!
Give It A Go | Day | Women's History Month | Health & Wellbeing | Sustainability | Cost of Living
Origami Masterclass
18th March 1pm - 4pm
Tommy's Lounge
Learn a new skill with this origami masterclass!
Free | Give It A Go | Day | Health & Wellbeing | Cost of Living


get involved in the campaign

Whether you've got an idea we could work on, want to be involved in some of our discussions, or want to share a student testimony from your own experiences in the cost of living crisis that will aid us in our lobbying agendas, please get in touch by emailing voice@su.rhul.ac.uk.

 


Latest updates

Cost of Living and Student Groups

Mon 12 Feb 2024

The Cost of Living Crisis is currently affecting nearly all areas of student life, and while participating in student groups can be one of the best parts of university, sometimes the costs can be a barrier. VP Societies & Sport has put together a list of top tips for students and committee members!

 
Financial Support For You

Tue 30 Jan 2024

With the rising cost of living in the UK, you may feel financial pressure and strain that could impact your studies. Despite any challenges you may be facing, we're here to ensure your time at Royal Holloway is a positive one.

 
Combatting the Cost of Living Crisis: Your Top Tips

Thu 07 Dec 2023

As part of our Cost of Living campaign, we held an SU on Tour event in the library to find your top money-saving tips. We've compiled them so that you have a super-handy list of ways to make the most of your time at university.