Some students have turned to gambling or selling their body to cover their living costs because maintenance loans leave them short, a survey suggests.
A poll of 1,900 students, carried out by money website Save the Student, found that the average student received £480 in maintenance loan each month, but spent £745, leaving them £265 out of pocket. The biggest outgoings were rent, accounting for an average of £373 a month, and food, costing £110.
The survey found that 71 per cent of students relied on parents for income, while 65 per cent turned to a part-time job, and 46 per cent drew on an overdraft.
Seven per cent said that they "sold their body" to earn cash, with one student telling the website that she had taken up “topless talking” using a webcam to make ends meet, and others describing how they had taken part in medical trials.
Twelve per cent of students said that they had used gambling as a source of income, while 3 per cent relied on payday loans. The survey found that eight out of 10 students worried about making ends meet, with 48 per cent saying that it affected their studies and 63 per cent claiming that it affected their diet.
The majority of students questioned had less than £500 in savings, with many having none at all. Seventy-eight per cent relied on their parents for emergency money.
The survey also found widespread variation in costs around the country, with students paying an average of £477 a month in rent in London, compared with £173 in Northern Ireland. Students in Yorkshire spent the most on travel, averaging £97 per month, compared with £66 in London and £36 in Wales.
Owen Burek, editor-in-chief of Save the Student, said that maintenance loans needed to be reformed.
“One in two students tells us they don’t understand the loan repayment conditions, yet are signing up for debts which aren’t fit for purpose,” he said. “Maintenance loans don’t reflect real living costs, regional differences and parents’ ability to contribute – frankly, they’re out of touch with individual circumstances and student needs.”
Overall, 55 per cent of students said that they did not think their course was good value for money. Only 40 per cent were confident about finding work after graduation.