second-hand clothes
Image: Wikimedia Commons / UNIFORM Studio

University students selling personal belongings to cover expenses

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many university students have taken to selling clothes and other items to cover expenses and costs related to their studies.

Since there has been a lack of employment opportunities and many students have outstanding expenses still, students are selling clothes online to make money. In recent years, there has been an increase in students setting up second-hand clothes businesses to earn extra money on top of their maintenance loans.

The second-hand industry has become more profitable in recent years due to greater concerns about ethical fashion and sustainable purchases. As well as the rise in popularity of second-hand sites such as Depop and ThreadUP, sales in dedicated second-hand sale stores have increased 17.9% in the past two years.

Despite the calls for students to get involved in national efforts during the pandemic, such as the ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign, many have found themselves without income. For some, this has meant looking to alternate means of supporting themselves over the summer and upcoming academic year.

Industries that hire the highest number of students have seen a significant reduction in employment opportunities. The hospitality and retail industries have seen a ’65 – 90% drop in opportunities’.

The hospitality and retail industries have seen a 65-90% drop in employment opportunities 

As a consequence, some of those in higher education have found themselves unable to cover rental agreements that were not cancelled over lockdown.

The pandemic has meant many people across the UK found themselves furloughed or redundant. As of 9 August, 1.2 million employers across the UK were furloughing their workers and 9.6 million people had been furloughed. This has had ramifications on the number of students unable to support themselves.

Welsh universities Swansea University and Cardiff Metropolitan have seen a particularly high increase in applications for hardship funds for students, up 190% and 125% respectively.

Stacey Watson, a maternity care student at Swansea University, shared her experience of being a student who providing for herself throughout lockdown with the BBC.

“It can be even more difficult because, yes you have time to do your studies. But then it’s like ‘how am I going to afford all of the food shop this week or next week?’” said Watson.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government put aside £23 million for the months of June and July in order to try to help struggling students continue their studies. As of 31 July, the Scottish government “brought forward early access to £11.4 million incursionary funds” for those within the higher education system.

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