Career Students Cost of Living 2023

How Cost Of Living Crisis Impacts Student Career Decisions

Many of us associate university as the best years of our lives. It is a chance to experience university culture and thrive outside the confines of parental guidance. However, the university experience is changing as many students struggle to be financially independent, juggling part-time jobs with their studies and other commitments.

Our Programme Co-ordinator, Aoife Duff, attended a recent gradireland Breakfast Masterclass event, ‘Building the graduate skills pipeline: How to attract, engage, and recruit next-gen talent’. There were some interesting takeaways from key speaker, Rachel Johnson, Strategic Development Lead at Cibyl. The data below is listed in two of Cibyl’s surveys: Cost-of-Living Survey and Graduate Research Ireland Survey.


Impact on student experience

A recent survey has revealed that the cost-of-living crisis and mental health are two biggest concerns for students. Many students are no longer eating out and are missing out on social events, while others are avoiding using heating/electricity and even missing lecturers to save on travel costs. In fact, financial management is a big worry for 80% of students, with many choosing to live at home to avoid the financial burden.


Changing career aspirations

The cost-of-living crisis has created a profound impact on student career aspirations, with many students considering the obstacles to a graduate job. In fact, 4 in 5 are anxious about job hunting with the cost-of-living crisis amplifying anxiety. Many have changed their career priorities by broadening their career interests and choosing different roles altogether.

Job income and stability has become a greater focus for graduates, with 83% of graduates seeking attractive employer benefits and a high starting salary. This is now more important than other schemes, such as sustainability policies and diversity initiatives. Some graduates are even choosing a high salary over a genuine interest in the role or organisation. Graduates are also choosing roles that are closer to home and/or have flexible hybrid working options to save on relocation and transportation costs.


What can employers do to help?

  1. Graduates are looking for support and understanding. Employers can showcase what they are doing to help employees with the cost-of-living crisis.
  2. Students have missed out on university social life due to the covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis. Offering free networking events will gain student interest and make your organisation more attractive.
  3. A high cost-of-living means students are living with parents for university and leaving Ireland for a graduate job. High wages, help with relocation and providing work-from-home equipment will stop graduates leaving Ireland for jobs.
  4. Mental health is also a big concern for students and graduates. Providing support will not only attractive to students but will also help workplace productivity.
  5. Students are broadening their career options and switching roles/sector choices. They are also changing their priorities in an employer. Competitive benefits are key to attracting and retaining early career hires.


What does this mean for social impact organisations?

Due to the cost of living crisis, social impact organisations need to support their graduates with a fair market-rate salary. This means completing salary benchmarking. Furthermore, it might be worth asking your current younger employees what the most important issues are for them. Build out policies around these issues and ensure they are followed up and implemented, to avoid a ‘tick-box’ process.


Get in Touch

If you’re a social impact organisation, wanting to attract graduates to your organisation, contact our Head of For Purpose, Dr. Rhonda Wynne at For more information on our programme, visit here.