The survey, conducted by insurance provider Endsleigh alongside the National Union of Students, found that 57 per cent of students are earning extra cash while at university, a 7 percentage point rise since last year.
According to the study, which questioned 1,704 university students, part-time work is being increasingly relied on to cover living costs. More than half (55 per cent) of students are spending their additional income on accommodation, food and household bills.
While 62 per cent are spending their wages socialising, the percentage of students who consider their student loan to be their main source of income has decreased from 73 per cent in 2012 to 60 per cent this year.
Ongoing economic uncertainty as the cost of living rises – and angst over trebled tuition fees – means that students are shouldering increasing financial responsibility during their time at university, the survey found.
“The need for students to find part-time employment while at university increasingly goes beyond the desire for a little extra cash to spend on having fun”, said Kim McGuinness, higher education engagement manager at Endsleigh Insurance.
“With higher living costs and worries that the turbulent job market will struggle to accommodate them once they have graduated, students are using part-time work to better prepare themselves for the future.”
More conscious of their career prospects than ever, 60 per cent of those surveyed expressed concern for the economy and just 56 per cent are confident they will find a job after graduating.
As well as part-time work often being a financial necessity, students are also working to increase their future employability.
Amy De Gregorio, a recent graduate from Cardiff University, said: “My best friend and I were worried we might struggle to find a job once we left university – even with a good degree.
“We both set out to find part-time jobs to demonstrate that, in addition to our studies, we were ambitious and had a good work ethic.”
Working hours are also increasing, according to the poll.
Nine out of ten working students are spending up to 20 hours a week earning money, compared with just over half working more than 11 hours a week in 2012.
Alison Clark, director of National Association of Student Employment Services, said: “Students are working harder than ever before…combining academic and financial pressures to develop balance where employability skills are developed and honed.”