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Joint APPG inquiry on the cost-of-living crisis

As inflation hits its highest level in 40 years, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Students and the APPG for FE and Lifelong Learning is launching an inquiry into the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on FE students.

The last 18 months have seen spiralling energy costs, increased inflation and rising food costs, resulting in a cost-of-living crisis throughout the country. Students who are typically on lower incomes have felt the impact of this crisis. The impact of the cost-of-living has been looked at from a higher education student perspective through the NUS Student Cost of Living Report and a recent ONS insight report, but less work has been done at an FE student level.

The APPG for Students recently held an inquiry into the cost-of-living for students, held evidence sessions and wrote a report outlining its findings and recommendations. The report found that students have been negatively impacted by the cost-of living crisis with students missing classes due to not being able to afford transport costs, skipping meals due to food costs and going to class hungry, dropping out to find employment or not attending classes to work more shifts and decreased participation in student life (societies, excursions, extracurricular activities).

The diversity of the FE student population means that their experiences of the cost-of-living crisis will likely diverge from that of HE students (although there will of course be common themes). The student cohort of FE colleges typically comes from lower social economic backgrounds, with 41% of learners coming from the top three deprivation bands (2020/2021 cohort) and ranging in ages from 14 – 16-year-olds to adults 25+. Overall, 18% of 16–18-year-olds in colleges claimed free school meals compared to 9% in maintained school and academy sixth forms. Colleges also support significant numbers of apprentices and adult learners, as well as being anchor institutions in their communities providing essential courses such as ESOL for refugees and working with jobcentres to provide Sector-based Work Academy Programmes (SWAP) for the unemployed.

The APPG for FE and Lifelong Learning are holding a joint meeting and inquiry session with the APPG for Students to explore how the cost-of-living crisis has impacted students in FE colleges. This will be followed-up with a short report to provide some recommendations to government and policymakers on how to alleviate some of these pressures on FE students.

The deadline to respond to this inquiry is 11:59pm, Monday 29 May 2023

Links to evidence surveys:

Student Survey

College Survey