The painful rise in prices should not come as a surprise, as UK’s inflation rate was up 6.2% in the 12 months leading to February 2022, and 7% to March 2022, a 0.8% increase closely linked with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
How does inflation affect students most? The biggest source of spending for students who don’t live at home remains invariably their accommodation. And, as the Guardian highlighted in 2021, this particular expense has undergone a stark rise in the last 10 years, with UK students paying about 60% more for their halls today. This is even worse for students living in independent housing, who are being hit by both the increase in water bills, the latter having witnessed a rise between 1.7% and 10% in different parts of England, as well as the much covered increase in gas prices, currently the key driver of inflation, with prices up by 28% while domestic electricity prices up by 19%.
Daily transport fares to go to work or school have also seen a rise of 4.8% for the TFL pay as you go price. The increase, justified by the pandemic and the lack of funding granted to TFL by the government, brings the price of each short journey to £2.50; the biggest London Tube fare hike in a decade.
Concerning the cost of food, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the official mechanism used to measure inflation in the United Kingdom, has shown that the price of both food and drinks has gone up by 5.9% between March 2021 and 2022. Pasta, a student’s basic necessity, has seen its prices go up by 10.1% in the last year, and cooking oil has witnessed its worst increase in a long time with a rise of 18.1%, mostly due to the lack of Ukrainian exports. Finally, the increases in the price of meat, vegetables and fruits are high enough to give the average student a reason to leave them out in most of their meals. Those who rely on coffee to wake up in the morning, or consume caffeine like water to pull all-nighters, in desperate attempts to uphold their deadlines, will suffer an additional blow in the form of an 11,5% increase in the prices of coffee.