We are very pleased to learn that the Welsh government will be increasing maintenance funding for students in Wales by 9.4%, working out at an increase of roughly £1,000 per year. This comes alongside an additional £2.3 million fund announced to support student mental health services in Wales.
Student Minds have engaged with Welsh leadership on this issue previously, giving evidence to the Senedd in December about the key issues facing student mental health. Beyond this, we continue to highlight the cost-of-living crisis as one of the foremost challenges facing students; our cost-of-living hub provides our research, signposting, and more for students, professionals, and loved ones alike. We are delighted that the Welsh government is taking our input on board and making meaningful steps to minimise the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on student mental health.
There is a proven connection between financial hardship and poor student mental health. Financial hardship is linked with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and substance misuse among students. Students experiencing financial difficulties also report poorer academic outcomes and physical health. Our December 2022 cost-of-living briefing contains more detail.
Last week, we responded to the Westminster governments’ announcement that students in England would see a 2.8% increase in maintenance funding in the 2023/24 academic year. Particularly in the context of the cost-of-living crisis, a real-terms cut in maintenance funding creates additional, unnecessary pressure on students. We strongly urge the Westminster government to follow the Welsh government’s example and provide a reasonable, substantial increase in maintenance funding that takes inflation and the cost-of-living crisis into account.
Jenny Smith, Policy Manager at Student Minds, said:
“We welcome the Welsh government’s decision and think it sets a strong example for how students should be supported, nationwide, throughout the cost-of-living crisis. While work still needs to be done to tackle the root causes of the crisis, such as spiralling energy costs and inflation, this is a step in the right direction and should take some pressure off students in Wales.
“Of course, we cannot overstate the fact that students are experiencing real hardship, right now. We hope that this announcement will serve as part of a package of support which will also address the immediate financial difficulties many students are finding themselves in. While the focus is on Wales and rightly so, we also want to spotlight this decision as a far more reasonable, supportive measure than the 2.8% for students in England, and challenge the Westminster government to follow this good example.”
If you are struggling with your mental health or wellbeing, Student Space is here to help. Whether it’s your mental health, your studies, money, housing or relationships, we’re here to support you.
Are you struggling with the cost of living crisis? Head over to our Cost of Living Hub to find support, resources to help create change and more information about the current climate students are facing.