A Minimum Income Standard for Students

This research draws on the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) approach to develop a minimum socially acceptable standard of living for students, which sets out what students themselves identify as necessary to participate in university life. The project has been commissioned and supported by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) with funding from Technology One.

With students facing increased costs of living, the project aims to establish the cost of a minimum standard of living for students today.  As a starting point the research focusses on the needs of a second or third year student living in shared private rented accommodation.

Using the MIS methodology, a sequence of four focus groups were held in early 2024 with students from ten Universities across different cities, covering England, Scotland and Wales. Groups discussed in detail what needs and costs are associated with being a university student in the UK – for accommodation, in the home, for studies, socially and life more broadly - in order to have a minimum acceptable standard of living which enables them to participate and feel included in the ‘university experience’.  

The minimum basket of goods and services described by groups were costed to provide a first baseline MIS for students. The research report compares these budgets to resources that students may have available, the level of government student maintenance support, hours of paid employment, and parental contributions. 


Hill, K., Padley, M. and Freeman, J. (2024) A Minimum Income Standard for Students London: Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).