New research by the NUS, commissioned by Future Finance, reveals some startling facts about the state of British students’ bank balances – and mental wellbeing. We were shocked to find out that many students are resorting to high-cost bank overdrafts and credit cards to get by and that an incredible 36% said they worry about their finances to such an extent that is affecting their mental health.
The key findings
36% worrying about their finances so much it is affecting their mental health
64% of students worry about their finances all the time or very often
19% using bank overdrafts that incur a charge and 18% using credit cards to finance their education
Three quarters of UK students are angry at the levels of debt they now face
38% of students say that they have considered work that would affect their wellbeing, including nightshift work, medical trials and sex work
All this makes for pretty sad reading. Education is a wonderful thing and it’s awful to think that so many students are struggling so badly to afford their tuition fees or living costs at University.
We think something should be done about it. We believe the British government and the universities can do more to help educate students about the perils of what we consider bad finance and make them aware of all the credit options out there. Many students will be managing their money at such levels for the first time and they need a support framework to help steer them in the right direction.
In a bit more detail…
Looking deeper into the research results we can see that the North West has the highest number of students (47%) who feel that financial pressures are affecting their mental health, compared to the South East (32%), the lowest in the UK. More female students (seven in 10) admit to worrying frequently, compared to just over half of males (55%).
A considerable 38% of students say that a lack of money had led them to contemplate work that would affect their wellbeing. When asked about what work they might do, students across the UK mention various types of jobs. A quarter of this subgroup cite shift or night work, followed by 13% who mention medical trails and 10% saying they’d consider working in the sex industry, including pornographic webcam shows, nude modelling, being an escort, stripper or working on chat lines.
Despite these challenges, UK students are a resilient bunch. When asked if they are likely to drop out of university due to a lack of funding, a significant majority (74%) disagreed, highlighting their resilience and the value they place on education. And 58% of students agreed with the statement that a good education is worth the cost and sets you up for life.
A helping hand from Future Finance
The Future Finance staff, once struggling students themselves, have shared some of their top tips to dealing with financial stress during university:
Make a budget: It sounds like a pain and really boring, but it helped me to have a weekly budget I could roughly stick to in university. I was flexible with it and used it as more of a guide, but it kept me from blowing money that I didn’t have or couldn’t afford to pay back.
Stop and ask yourself if you need it: We all have been there. As a student, some of my purchases were purely based on impulse and often things I didn’t need. Next time you’re shopping, stop and ask yourself if you really need it. If you do, buy it. And, do check out the charity shops too.
Seek advice: If you have trouble coping with the pressures of university life, financial or otherwise, seek help. There are plenty of support networks at the universities and at charities that can give you great advice and guidance.
Use discount websites: Websites like Groupon and Wowcher have amazing deals. Be careful not to buy stuff just because it’s on offer though – make sure you need it and you’ll get good use out of it.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew: Working through university can help give you a bit extra money, but don’t slave away at the expense of your studies or wellbeing.
About the survey
The online survey was carried out by NUS Insight with higher education students at UK universities. A survey sample of 2,051 was achieved.
 Of the 38% of students (base: 2,024) who said that they considered work that would affect their wellbeing, 356 students chose to disclose further details of the types of jobs they have considered.