Student Income and Expenditure Survey for Welsh-domiciled students

IES News

15 Jun 2017

The Student Income and Expenditure Survey 2014/15 for Welsh-domiciled students is published today. This study provides an authoritative report on the financial position of higher education students from Wales who are studying in Wales or England in the academic year 2014/15. Almost 2,000 students across 84 institutions completed a detailed survey of their income, expenditure, borrowing and savings, and attitudes to finances.

This survey updates the picture of student finances taken in 2011/12, and therefore provides a robust assessment of the impact of the changes to student funding and support that were introduced for those starting higher education (HE) in the 2012/13 academic year. The key changes were the increase in the tuition fee cap for full-time undergraduate students to £9,000; the introduction of the Welsh Government Fee Grant; and the introduction of Student Loans for Fees for part-time students.

Student Income and Expenditure Survey 2014/15: Welsh-domiciled StudentsThe survey found a strong relationship between levels of student income and levels of expenditure. Student spending among full-time students has risen since the last survey in 2011/12, driven by increases in tuition fees, and student income support has risen to compensate. In most cases the students do not see their increased income, as income from sources such as Student Loans for Tuition Fees and Welsh Government Fee Grants are paid direct to their institution rather than to the student themselves. So while income may be nominally rising, students may not feel any better off.

The survey showed that the average income of full-time students has increased by 43 per cent in real terms since 2011/12, to £16,284 (this includes the fee loan and the Welsh Government Fee Grant). This reflects the expansion of the student support package to take account of the higher fee regime. The average expenditure (including tuition fee costs) increased by 34 per cent to £19,244.

The survey also indicated the importance of the Welsh Government Fee Grant as a component of full-time student income. It was the most frequently cited element of state student support that influenced students’ decisions about their studies among full-time Welsh-domiciled students, and made up around 20 per cent of average total income for full-time students.

Among part-time students, average incomes rose by 14 per cent to £13,962, whereas average expenditure did not change between 2011/12 and 2014/15 and was £18,813. The survey showed the growing importance of financial support for part-time students, following the introduction of the Student Loan for Tuition Fees in 2014/15, with approximately 40 per cent of Welsh part-time students taking out a loan averaging around £1,700. And over half (51%) of part-time students said the availability of student funding and support had affected their decision to study.

For both full-time and part-time students, as the level of state-funded support has increased, it has grown as a proportion of total student income. Whereas the income students receive from their families while studying has become less important for full-time students – with the average amount falling by 23 per cent in real terms to £1,179, and it representing just seven per cent of total average income. However, the average income gained from undertaking paid work whilst studying has increased for both full-time (by 36% to £1,842) and part-time (by 22% to £10,647) students, and so continues to be an important part of students’ income. Over half (55%) of full-time students and three quarters (75%) of part-time students worked alongside their studies. Students appeared to be working longer hours, in better jobs than they were in previous years, perhaps reflecting the general improvements in the labour market.

The Student Income and Expenditure Survey 2014/15 for English-domiciled students is available here.