“Binge drinking and shopping sprees? We can hardly afford our rent.”
As a student myself, I am well aware of what I spend and where I spend it, so I was obviously pretty angry when I came across an article the other day suggesting student loans are spent on shopping sprees, drinking and plastic surgery.
“ A survey completed by more than 1,500 students revealed that many are opting to spend a large proportion of their loans on non-essential items and expensive trips abroad. ”
The article itself is misleading from the get go. It begins by talking about how a large amount of students are spending their money in a careless way. With around 500,000 students entering higher education in 2015 alone, I hardly find a 1500 person survey to be representative of all of us, in fact, it represents only 0.3% of first years. So you can’t blame me for being somewhat sceptical of anyone using this survey to make sweeping statements.
Regardless, the article continues to state how students have admitted to spending money on shopping sprees, as well as drinking and clubbing. It then helpfully suggests to us some places for advice on how to budget, which I honestly just found condescending.
“ The research also highlighted that many students are unaware of the financial consequences of overspending. ”
Who are these students? Pretty much any student I know is aware that the consequences of overspending on these supposed lavish shopping sprees, are that you don’t have any money. Or, in the case of the dreaded overdraft, you get into further debt. Shocking.
“ University students are blowing thousands of pounds from their maintenance loans on frivolous activities ”
Honestly the most frivolous activity I think I’ve taken part in recently is a sneaky Greggs on my way back from uni.
Personally, budgeting is not my issue. In the first semester, once I had paid for my accommodation, I was left with £200 to last me 4 months. This is a lot compared to many.
Most students often end up with much less left over, or even having to cover some if not most of their accommodation themselves. They are expected to pay for travel, food, and general living costs on top of this and I am, therefore, struggling to see where exactly we have room in the budget to shop to excess, let alone fork out for plastic surgery.
“ Student loans are just that – a loan. It doesn’t matter what we spend them on. ”
Anyway, even with the little amount of money students often have left over, I fail to see what is being criticised. Student loans are just that – a loan. It doesn’t matter how we spend it, we still have to pay them back. True, it isn’t very smart to blow them all on drinking, but surely that’s our own problem. The overly critical stance on students and how they spend their time is beyond me. For most people university is a one time experience.
“ Parents contribute around £1200 to students living away from home ”
With such little money left over, we must find it in other places, so we can still “binge drink”. My mum and I had a right laugh over the fact that my parents are meant to be contributing £1177 to me over the year. Coming from a large family, and having a sister at uni, as well as younger siblings still at home, this figure just isn’t realistic. Whilst I am aware that a lot of students will get given this much by their parents, I also know a lot of people will not.
For this reason I find these accusations and criticisms of university students so frustrating. With student loans for poorer students being cut, everything we spend is being paid back. Also, most people don’t receive money from their parents, they cover the rest of their accommodation – and their plastic surgery or whatever – by getting a job. Considering that 9 times out of 10 it is our own money being spent, we have every right to try to enjoy ourselves during our short time at uni.
Young people are given so many mixed messages when it comes to university. We’re told to go if we want a good job, but now we’re all here, none of us seem to be doing it right. With that in mind, I will continue to spend my money as I please. But honestly, with the current state of my loan, I don’t think I’ll be getting lip fillers any time soon. I’ll just have to keep the £500 cart I created on Topshop in my wish list for now. Gutted.
Eleri Williams Eleri Williams, 10 months ago
Agree? Disagree? You can tweet them here @EleriMWilliams