Part-time student inflation higher
The cost of living for higher education students in the UK has dropped dramatically in the October Student Price Index (SPI) compiled by Open University economist Alan Shipman.
“Students are still suffering from higher inflation than the average. This is due to the past year’s rapid rise in housing, food, tuition and travel costs, which absorb much more of their student budget (around 60%) than the average person. Slower tuition cost inflation is the main reason the differential over CPI has narrowed,” Shipman said.
The rises are lower in Wales and Northern Ireland because housing is a smaller component of student budgets. And lower in Scotland because of lower tuition costs.
October 08 September 08
CPI 4.5% 5.2%
Wales part-time 3.8 5.7
N Ireland part-time 3.6 5.7
Scotland full-time 2.7 4.2
When The Open University began the student price index (SPI) in July 2008, consumer price inflation (on the CPI) was running at 4.4%. We found that living costs for students in England had been rising significantly faster over the past year than living costs for the general population, given by the CPI. For full-time students in England the (SPI) inflation rate was 6.6%, one-and-a-half-times the general inflation rate. For part-time students in England inflation was slightly lower, at 6.4%.
Compared with the average adult, the OU student expenditure ‘basket’ captures the much higher proportion of income that students spend on four essential items – accommodation, travel, food, and (of course) tuition. These four items account for around 60% of students’ spending, almost twice the proportion for non-students. And they are all items whose cost has risen much faster than average prices over the past year. Inflation was slightly lower for part-time students mainly because they spend a lower proportion of their income (than full-timers) on housing and tuition – even though they spend a slightly higher proportion on food (reflecting the fact that more have children to support) and travel (because most are also working and have to travel to work).
Student inflation rates were slightly lower in Wales and Northern Ireland, largely attributed to lower housing costs. (These are around 15% of student spending in Wales and 13% in N Ireland, compared with over 20% in England on average). In Scotland, where the student inflation rate was 5% in July, it is mainly the absence of tuition fees that keeps the rate below England’s, though accommodation also takes a slightly lower proportion of the budget.
Universities UK defines a full-time student as meaning a requirement to attend the institution for an average of at least 21 hours a week for at least 24 weeks a year.