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Cost of living for students. Report. Comments

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Study costs exceeded the expectations of over 60 percent of visitors and almost 40 percent of local students who took part in research conducted at the University of Warsaw. – Students do not live only by reading books, they also have to live somewhere and eat something – admits Maciej Gdula, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education, in an interview with the tvn24.pl business editorial team. And he announces funding for university students.

Almost a quarter of the surveyed students refuse to meet friends for financial reasons, and 29 percent due to lack of time due to work. Some respondents even consider abandoning their studies for financial reasons. Among working students it was 27 percent, among non-working students – almost one fifth.

These are the conclusions of the study “How much does your studies cost you? Financial situation and student life of female and male students of the University of Warsaw”. “There is a visible connection between the paid work undertaken by students and their social life, and, consequently, the quality of life,” comment the authors of the study. They are students of the Faculty of Sociology, University of Warsaw.

– We were inspired to conduct this research by our own everyday experiences – explains Zuzanna Banaś, a member of the research team. – We were looking for comprehensive research on the costs of student life, apartment rentals, and students' professional work, but it turned out that such studies do not exist or are only available to university authorities. That's why we decided to prepare them ourselves.

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At the university, students lack, among others: a microwave, a water source, and a place where they could sit in silence. But also canteens and better quality dorms. – Studying now is a privilege. I know people who would like to study, but do not do it due to the cost of living, especially the housing market – says Paulina, a student of the University of Warsaw, to the TVN24.pl business editorial team.

The entire salary for the apartment

The biggest problem is finding and paying for an apartment. Among the visitors surveyed, only 13 percent lives in a student dormitory, and 43% rent an apartment.

Not only UW students have problems with dorms. Jakub Wróblewski studies in Szczecin. Initially, he lived in a dormitory – it cost PLN 600 a month – but the conditions were insufficient. – I lacked privacy and there was also a problem with the kitchen. The light in the bathroom broke in November, and despite my reports, the administration repaired it only when I moved out. In March, he says. Jakub works in one of the large sports equipment stores to support himself.

Most of the respondents work during their studies. For 35 percent the decision to take up work is dictated by the need to obtain funds for subsistence. Despite this, the work of more than half of the respondents is not enough for them to support themselves, so they have to use the help of their family. – In media reports, students' professional work is often presented as a way to gain experience or broaden horizons. Meanwhile, according to our research, the main reason for taking up work are living needs, says Zuzanna Banaś.

How does it look in practice? – I study in Warsaw, so it's not easy – says Julia Pyzińska. – I work part-time and I have support from my parents, but most of my salary goes to renting an apartment. Finding an apartment at a reasonable price is a problem, and then you also have to sign the contract before a hundred other interested people. And when it comes to food, I usually cook myself, so the costs are lower.

Zuzia Kicińska, a student from Krakow, also cooks herself. – I was surprised by the prices of groceries, in my house it was mainly done by my parents, so I didn't pay much attention to them. On the other hand, lunch at the university canteen costs PLN 30, which is 1/3 of the price of my weekly purchases, so it is more profitable for me to eat lunch at home. I pay PLN 1,500 for rent including fees. However, in Lublin, where I come from, rental prices are lower.

The student does not eat books

According to Central Statistical Office research, the number of students is decreasing. Between the academic years 2015/16 and 2019/20, the number of students decreased by almost two hundred thousand. A decrease in the number of graduates was also observed (only in the academic years 2016/17 and 2020/21 there was a slight increase).

– We are perfectly aware that the material aspect of studying is extremely important – says Maciej Gdula, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education, to the tvn24.pl business editorial team. – Students do not live only by reading books and the excitement of attending seminars. They also have to live somewhere and eat something.

The ministry wants to improve the situation of students by focusing on one of the biggest problems. – The situation on the housing market has a significant impact on how students function, admits Gdula. – Therefore, under the agreement with the Ministry of Development, 10 percent. funds allocated for social housing will be allocated to the construction of new dormitories and the renovation of old ones. The number of places in dormitories has been decreasing for ten years, there were 150,000, now there are 115,000. We want to reverse this trend.

There is a lack of help

When asked about the necessary infrastructure at universities, as many as half of the respondents replied that they lacked cheap and easily accessible psychological help. 29 percent would like to use such help, but they cannot afford it.

– Many of my peers need psychological help. Many of us started our university education during the pandemic, which made it more difficult to establish relationships and organize a support network – explains Angelika Friedrich, founder of the psychoeducational organization Teen Azyl, a psychology student at SWPS University.

– Access to psychological help at universities is difficult. Moreover, the offer offered by universities is not psychotherapy, and many young people do not want to spend money on it. My friends often choose between paying the rent and the option of seeking psychiatric treatment or going to the dentist. It cannot be denied that combining work and studies is already difficult enough and often even finding time to seek medical or psychological help is hardly possible.

Maciej Gdula admits that the ministry is aware of the mental health crisis among young adults. – The problem is systemic, the ministry will not solve it on its own. We recently donated funds to the Students' Parliament of the Republic of Poland, which are to be used for psychological assistance – he adds.

Author:Natalia Szostak

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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