As part of our Cost-of-Living campaign, we are hearing from our members about how they are providing support at this economically challenging time.
What are the biggest challenges that students at LSE / in London are facing during the cost-of-living crisis?
London has been a high-cost city for some time. More recently, very high prices for accommodation, food, travel and heating leave many students with little or no money to spend on social life. This is not a luxury but an essential part of being a student if they are to avoid isolation and make the most of the great opportunities a city like London offers to those that can afford it.
How is LSE supporting its students through this difficult period?
We have doubled our student hardship funding in 2022 – 23 in recognition of the increased cost of living pressures, uplifted our PhD stipends by 10%, arranged personal finance training and drop-in sessions, and provided a single web page with links to the whole range of support available. On catering, we are providing early-bird low-cost meal options and more student catering points on campus where students can heat up their own food, for example. We are also working with our Student Union to offer low-cost or no-cost social opportunities on our campus and at our residences.
How has LSE innovated and amended its policies to take into account the changing situation?
We’ve increased funding for the LSE Students’ Union, including funding for an additional staff member in the LSESU Advice Team, to provide personal financial support and we are providing one-off additional payments to those students who need it most, for example those holding LSE bursaries.
How do you keep track of the needs and concerns of your students?
We have many different channels to hear from our students about their experiences. As Director of Student Experience, I co-chair with our SU General Secretary a Liaison group that addresses student concerns such as those around cost of living. The President and Vice Chancellor, and the School Management team hold termly Town Hall meetings open to all students, and we have a Consultative Forum for undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research students to raise concerns. We work with our students to co-create new initiatives.
What has been the feedback from students?
Students do appreciate the wide range of measures we have put in place and they continue to work with us to improve them. But they also ask how we are lobbying the government for better funding for students.
What advice would you give to new students coming to London for the first time?
Before you arrive find out as much as you can about the costs involved. Try to secure university-owned or university-endorsed accommodation at least in your first year. This is often cheaper and invariably it’s more secure to have your university as your landlord. If your university doesn’t provide information about financial support available and/or about what you can do in London on a budget, ask for that information. In short, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help if and when you need it.