Socio-economic Disadvantage

The NUS The Pound in Your Pocket research into student finance showed that many students are struggling to make ends meet, concentrate on their studies and stay the course, because financial support is systemically inadequate across both further and higher education.

The research explored socio-economic disadvantage and its effect on our students. Beyond the impact on students, we can expect these factors to contribute to the wider population also.

The research showed that there is a very close relationship between participation levels in HE and socio-economic class, which describes wealth and mobility.

We found that the student experience can differ for students from lower-participation backgrounds in a number of ways:

  • They are far more likely to worry about cash flow, paying the bills and getting by;
  • They struggle to concentrate on their studies because of financial worry;
  • They work longer hours in employment whilst studying, further effecting their performance;
  • They are more likely to stay living at home as opposed to moving for university;
  • They find information about financial entitlements more difficult to access;
  • They are three times more likely to turn to high-interest lenders;
  • They are far more prone to financial difficulty and to have considered leaving their course, particularly when confronted with hidden course costs or problems with their financial support.


Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Working to inspire social change through research and education about social inequalities and deprivation.

National Institute of Economic and Social Research

An independent research institute undertaking research to have a deeper understanding of the economic and social forces that affect people's lives, and the ways in which policies can improve them. For example, their research shows graduates boost productivity.


Oxfam undertakes research and campaigning to fight poverty in the UK and globally.

The Pound in your Pocket website

This website highlights all the findings from The Pound in your Pocket research project. This includes a thousand graphs and figures showing data compiled from the main survey. There are also briefings highlighting the implications of the research for various groups such as student carersblack students,disabled studentswomen studentsmature students and NHS students. This POLAR 2 and Cultural Capital briefing looks at the relationship between a students’ background and their financial wellbeing – looking at their POLAR 2 classifications and the idea of cultural capital.