The Great Student Money Debate: National Student Money Week 2024

On Wednesday the 20th of March, during National Money Week, City Students’ Union (SU) Advice Team partnered with City’s Debate Society to host The Great Student Money Debate. The first of its kind at City, the debate aimed to engage students in thought-provoking discussions on student finances through investigating three main areas of contention:

  • Government and wider impact
  • City University
  • Work and Networking


We heard from a variety of speakers throughout the debate, each bringing a unique perspective based on their professional backgrounds. The panel of five speakers included: Louise Jennings, Head of Student Support Services; Alan Clark-Gutierrez, President of City Green Party Society; Ashton Shepherd, newly elected deputy president of the SU; Hywel Barret, a GDL (Law) Student; Minhal Mahmood, a Research student from SST.


Our compere for the evening was the President of the Debating Society who began by highlighting the Student Wellbeing services available from the SU to support those who may be affected by the subject of the debate. During the debate, the panel was posed a series of questions on the topics mentioned above and a summary of their answers are seen below.


Starting with ‘City University’:

What is the University currently doing?

Louise Jennings provided a thorough response to this question highlighting the huge rise in demand and use of the travel and hardship bursaries the University provides, the removal of fines in the library, the Chaplaincy team free breakfast, Shopping and IT vouchers and the introduction of free period products across campus. Most importantly, the introduction of the Cost-of-Living Hub website which provides students with this information.


The following questions were directed to the panel:

What would be the single biggest change the university could make to improve the situation of students during the cost-of-living crisis?

  • “Reducing rent specifically for students through subsidies. Rent is the greatest cost by far for students so easing this pressure would have the biggest impact”.
  • “Free food for students. This suggestion involved the canteen offering free food to students”.
  • “Ensuring timetables are clear for all students on Wednesday Afternoon”.
  • “On the job training to better prepare students for post-university”.


The university is made up of both Home and International students, who may be affected by financial pressure differently, should the university prioritise support for one group of students over others??

  • “It’s about the need of individuals so all students should be offered the same support”.
  • “Significant proportion of students at City are international and so pay higher fees. Support could be better focused on those students”.


Does the university have a social and financial responsibility to support its students, or is this the responsibility of the students, or other party (for example Nation State)?

  • “The main point was simply: Our tuition fees, especially international fees, where are they going?”
  • "Is Digital poverty a major issue for students, and if so, how should it be addressed by the university??
  • “Plans and packages with internet providers which better support students “.
  • “Covid was especially hard for the University. With the movement to online, digital poverty was at the forefront of the Student Wellbeing staff’s focus”.

The next topic: ‘Government and wider impact’


Audience poll: Has the university done enough to support people during the cost-of-living crisis?

  • Only 2 audience members agreed.

If you were running the UK, what single change, or policy would you introduce to support people during the cost-of-living crisis?

  • “Paying £10 a month directly towards funding the NHS, as seen in Germany”.
  • “Discussion on the Renter’s Reform Bill”.


?Does the current economic situation of students show the “experiment” of paid tuition fees has failed- should the government scrap tuition fees.?

  •  “Most panel members believed that at least a reduction in fees should be considered”

Does the government prioritise students too much over other young people, should we encourage people to go into working training IE apprenticeships over expensive university tuition.?

  • Degree Apprenticeships aren’t pushed enough, and it was believed by some members in the panel that some young people feel pressured to go to university as they see no other option.


Finally, ‘Work and Networking’

In your opinion, how does the cost-of-living crisis affect student careers?

  • Students feel they should apply for safer options, potentially limiting themselves.


Student Poll: Do you hold a part time job whilst studying?

  • Over half of the audience said yes


According to the NUS 69% of students work part time jobs while studying. Is it right that so many students either need or choose to work extra hours to support themselves during studies, should students earn for themselves to pay their own share?

  •  “Jobs create a wealth divide as those students who don’t have to work, have extra hours to study”.
  • “Students shouldn’t have to earn money to live”.

Is networking exclusive and elitist, encouraging nepotism and benefiting students from certain backgrounds over others, if so, what is the problem??

  • ·“It can be elitist but can also combat elitism at the same time”.


The debate ended in a Q&A where both the Officer, Yavuz, and Policy Assistant for the Cost-Of-Living priority asked for feedback to improve the SU’s approach to supporting Students’ Finances. This was then followed by Networking and Pizza to allow for an informal discussion. All debaters were rewarded with a £25 voucher of their choice for their fantastic contributions.


Thanks go to the Debate Society for hosting the event as well as the panel members for their insight.


Please keep a look out for future debates and how you can get involved!


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