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Education and training

Funding: cadets speak out

24 March 2023

In the previous issue of Telegraph, Nautilus shared statistics from a recent survey conducted by the Union which revealed that many cadets are facing severe financial hardship due to the cost of living crisis. Rob Coston reveals some of the direct responses provided by cadets, which bring home just how bad the situation has become

The recommendations of the Maritime Skills Commission are now beginning to have an impact on the way that cadetships in the UK are funded, and what cadets are taught.

Nautilus also hopes to see an improvement in the sea time experience and funding for cadetships too, beyond the positive move to 50% funding by government, although this work has been delayed for now. Nautilus will also continue to push for more of this funding to go to the cadets in future.

For those currently going through their cadetships however, there are very real financial difficulties to overcome, which show why such change is essential.

Nautilus’s cost of living survey of cadet members received dozens of responses. Last month in Telegraph, we highlighted some of the statistical responses – such as the fact that 52% of respondents said that financial issues are affecting their ability to manage their training requirements.

However, these numbers cannot tell the whole story. Here are some of the comments made by the cadets themselves, which reveal the struggles behind the statistics.

Is the cost of living crisis affecting your health or wellbeing?

‘I’m worried about money more so than education. I’m debating if I can continue the course because it will cost me more money and I will lose more and more money continuing.’

‘Private companies should not be profiting off cadet training. Thousands of pounds have been spent on training resources per cadet that we never asked for. I don’t even have time to use these, because I’m forced to work an extra job to cover my bills. There needs to be a serious review into where SMarT funding is going.’

‘Stressed about saving and not having enough at the end of the month, having to borrow money all the time which further puts me in debt.’

What money-saving activities have you undertaken in the past 6 months?

‘I can’t afford flights or trains to see family.’

‘Cutting back on food, going out, and travelling to see friends. Basics are unaffected, but the “nice to haves” are gone.’

‘Not socialising as much. Cutting back on seeing family due to travel. Can’t pay my health care bills and food at the same time.’

‘Cutting back on everything, working part time and getting into debt.’

How is your lifestyle affected by the cost-of-living crisis?

‘I have had to reduce the amount of food that I am eating every day and reduce attending fitness classes and social meets. Both of these have affected my mental and physical wellbeing and I know not having a full stomach is affecting my concentration.’

‘As a slightly older cadet (although only 23) I had pre-existing costs coming into the cadetship. This was JUST manageable before the rise in the cost of living but now due to the rise in costs. I am unable to meet payments to live without going into debt or relying on family (although they are struggling also). It is disgusting the level of pay cadets receive and I am re-evaluating my options.’

‘I can’t afford to have my heating on very often so my flat is often so cold I can do little but sit covered in blankets and jumpers. I can’t really effectively study like this.’

Have you considered dropping out as a result?

‘I may need to start working full time locally to catch up on loan payments.’
‘Money worries, lack of support and funding for cadets.’

‘My cadetship is frozen and I’m not getting paid because I’ve had to take leave for medical treatments so I have no money to pay for anything. I cannot find extra work because of my condition currently and am stuck unemployed and unsponsored.’

‘I could be earning very good money on yachts and not bother with a cadetship. If any of my exams become a problem I will be dropping out with approx. 50% of my class from speaking with people.’

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Cost-of-living crisis

Nautilus International surveyed the real cost to cadets' basic living expenses during their training.

The April 2022 report showed British Merchant Navy cadets are being crushed by debt as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, with a third considering dropping out of training altogether.

Download the cadet cost-of-living-crisis survey


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