So you’ve made the decision to overlook the £9000 per year course fees and take the leap into higher education. Having excitedly packed your bags and left your dreary hometown behind, with a head full of hedonistic ideas of unlimited alcohol and non-stop parties, £9k a year doesn’t seem too much to sacrifice for your education and enjoyment, does it? Unfortunately, this extortionate tuition fee is only the beginning of a whole host of costs that must be met by students in order to attend university. Nicole Pilcher reports.

Every year thousands of students struggle to find money for rent, bills and day to day living costs that occur as a result of studying at university. Scraping together the pennies left from student overdrafts and part time work to make ends meet is just a normal part of life for many students. But what happens when your university suddenly lumps you with additional and unexpected course costs that should surely be included in your hefty annual bill?

Starting from this academic year The National Union of Students (NUS) has launched a new campaign initiative to help students save their cash by tackling hidden uni course costs. Forming part of the NUS’s wider Come Clean campaign which works to ensure fair rights and protection for students, the initiative calls for universities and colleges to expose all additional fees upon application. Alongside this, the NUS have called for vice chancellors to absorb essential costs such as text books, within the tuition fee. The new initiative is a result of research on the hidden costs of studying that shows almost a third of student’s unions reported that their universities make no allowance in their fees for extras such as printing, field trips, text books, uniforms and travel to work placements.

NUS and UWE Students Union believe that a student’s success should not be based on their ability to pay for extra materials or expensive travel costs, enabling them to gain better grades than a student with a more difficult financial situation. Hidden costs places huge financial strain on students and their parents causing students to sacrifice crucial study time to work more hours or increase their debt by committing to further overdrafts or credit cards. Additionally to this, if students overall grades are suffering as a result of hidden costs, universities themselves will be effected with lower rankings in league tables and in student satisfaction polls.

With the increased fees that see students paying £9k a year to attend university and gain a qualification, it is clear that this extra £4k rise in fees is not in the student’s best interest. Liam Burns, president of the NUS highlights this in his manifesto on the Hidden Costs campaign, he explains ‘we are also pressing the government to come clean and admit that their reforms have delivered nothing extra for students’.

With a national student walkout and a government lobby planned, now seems to be the perfect time for students to get their voices heard. UWE student’s union need you to get involved and reveal the real cost of being a student. For more information on how you can make a difference email supresident@uwe.ac.uk or Tweet #UWEREALCOST.