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University challenge

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As fees soar and student debt grows, undergraduates are finding that university involves a lot of hard work outside, as well as inside, the classroom. Pauline McCallion reports  

Research published this week by financial advice site,, has revealed that 50% of those students that have to leave their course do so because of financial difficulties. Those who stick with their studies can expect to leave with £15,000 of debt on average and, to make matters worse, 58% earn less than they expected to following graduation.

In order to make it through their time at university, 81% work during the summer holidays and nearly half (45%) work at least 16 hours per week in order to make ends meet while studying. More than 1 in 10 (11%) students are forced to claim a hardship loan and 19% receive hardship grants while at university.

The financial pressures extend beyond the students themselves, as found that 58% of students receive at least £5,000 from their parents or guardians during the course of their studies.

Such financial pressures, however, did mean that many students learn how to draw up and stick to a budget while studying, undoubtedly a valuable discipline to have. Of the 450 students surveyed by, 58% reported that they drew up a budget to help them manage their finances. Women are more financially savvy than men, according to the survey, with 61% budgeting compared to 55% of men. And 82% of students take advantage of the wide range of specialised banking facilities available to them by opening a student bank account.

A spokesperson for says: “The financial pressures associated with a course of higher education should not be underestimated. These results show that university is as much about hard work outside the classroom as within it. The majority of students do budget, but if they are to emerge from university financially stable, it is increasingly vital that they are well educated about how to manage their money.”


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