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UK: Cash-strapped students lonelier, more likely to drop out – study

The study found only a third of students from working class backgrounds and families with an unemployed head, are well integrated with the students they live with in university. Source: Shutterstock

Students who are less well-off are more likely to have problems socialising and integrating than their richer peers, which could result in them dropping out of higher education, a major new study found.

According to The Guardian, the study revealed only a third of students from working class backgrounds and families with an unemployed head, are well integrated with the students they live with in university. By contrast, half the of students from upper-middle class and middle-class families say they are well integrated.

“Students from poorer backgrounds are more likely to come into a social environment where it’s just more difficult for them to feel they fit in,” the report’s co-author Jenny Shaw said.

“There’s an unfamiliarity to it that makes it difficult for them to integrate. And if you don’t feel integrated you’re more likely to drop out.”

A similar ratio applies between the classes when respondents are asked whether they have friends in university they socialise with at least twice a week.

One in 12 UK-domiciled students leave school during their first year, a rate that has remained steady over the previous years. However, among EU students and non-EU international students, the rate of dropouts has decreased, according to data from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Dropouts are particularly likely during the post-Christmas period as well as during the first semester. These students cite feeling isolated and worried about achieving their future aspirations.

‘Resilience’

To tackle this, there must be renewed understanding of and steps taken to address mental health issues on campus, the report recommends.

“Resilience”, defined as “the ability to recover from misfortune and to adjust easily to change”, is a quality parents, friends and teachers should nurture. An approach to mental health issues popular in US universities and slowly making its way to British campuses, “resilience” is also described as a trait that can be influenced by personal characteristics, like the ability to set goals as well as persistence and perseverance.

UK’s Labour Party has pledged free tuition to ease financial burden on the country’s youth if elected. Source: Reuters/Hannah McKay.

The United Kingdom is one of the most unequal countries in the world, in terms of wealth. An analysis by anti-poverty chain Oxfam last year found Britain’s richest one percent hold wealth that is more than 20 times the total of the poorest fifth. In numbers, 634,000 of the country’s wealthiest are worth 20 times as much as the assets of the poorest 13 million.

The report, which surveyed 6,500 students, was commissioned by student accommodation website Unite Students.

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