The latest biannual survey of 1,000 UK students by Future Finance, the UK’s specialist student lender has shown that a significant number are still resorting to risky and expensive ways of supplementing their finances. Asking 1,000 students from around the UK about their spending habits revealed that one-quarter (25%) have money outstanding to a payday lender of which a staggering 92.4% admitted to incurring late charges with 54.5% admitting to always incurring such charges.
In addition, the number of students resorting to risky measures like gambling and paid clinical trials remains substantial. Around 24% have admitted resorting to gambling to supplement their finances and nearly 13% have participated in paid clinical trials.
To further ease their financial burden, nearly two-thirds of UK students have a part-time job (64%), but over one-sixth of these feel that their education is suffering as a result of the additional work. Aside from taking on part-time work, relying on their parents (58%) was another common form of financial support. Conversely, only 8% of students felt they could rely on their university for support.
The research has also found that students spend a large amount of time worrying about their finances, with 64% saying that they are worried all or most of the time and over one-quarter agreeing that the costs of living and tuition make them worry that they will not be able to afford to finish their studies.
Despite the high costs and the planned changes to maintenance grants, it remains a valuable investment. According to the latest release of Graduate Labour Market Statistics by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills published in March 2015, working aged graduates can expect a £9,000 earnings premium on average, while postgraduates can expect a £17,000 earnings premium on average. According to the figures, the median graduate salary in the first quarter of 2015 was £31,000 for undergraduates and £39,000 for postgraduates it. For non-graduates it was £22,000.
In fact, higher education is not only a good investment for an individual’s future but it is also valuable for companies and the economy. According to a recent report on the Economic Role of Universities in the UK companies that have higher concentrations of degree-educated workers (above 35% of the workforce) create, on average, returns per employee three times higher than those of companies with fewer degree-educated workers
(20% or less of the workforce). In addition, it’s estimated that a 1% increase in the share of the workforce with a university degree raises the level of long-term productivity for the UK by 0.2%-0.5%.
Yet, lack of funding is a problem that could prevent students from finishing their degree or could put them off of pursuing higher education entirely. According to the National Union of Students, university students need on average an additional £8,000 above what government subsidised loans can provide to cover the costs of tuition and living expenses.
Brian Norton, Chief Executive of Future Finance, comments:
“Higher education in the UK is a smart investment: graduates enjoy a lifetime of better employment prospects and higher earning potential. In addition, empirical evidence has also shown that a degree-educated workforce boosts long-term productivity and GDP. However, the latest results of this survey make it plain that the growing gap between the costs of education and available financing sources is still leading students to make bad choices, or in some cases, could simply exclude them from furthering their education altogether.”
“We believe that no student with the desire and ability to pursue a university education should be denied the opportunity to do so because they lack the financial resources.”
“Future Finance was established to give UK students access to a tailored, affordable and transparent financing option to help bridge this gap. If government loans aren’t an option or aren’t enough, we believe that our loans are a compelling alternative option for those considering more expensive sources of finance such as some bank loans, credit cards and payday lenders.”