We all know the stereotypes that university students are branded with. They all live off baked beans and pesto pasta, go to any bar that has 2-4-1 cocktails and send their washing home to mum to save on laundry powder. The fact that the students of today have to scrape by and scrimp to get by until their next loan instalment and can get into significant debt is often seen as part and parcel of university life, but it can have a serious impact on students and their studies as well as their lives well after university.
With the cost of living rising, added to the complexity of means tested living grants, many students find themselves barely able to cover their rent – let alone afford basic essentials such as groceries and course textbooks. There are so many financial outgoings to consider at university, from socialising to paying utility bills, it is easy for expenses to mount up and for funds to quickly dwindle. There are also different options to consider when funding university and it is important that students are comfortable with the choices they can make and how these decisions will play out in the long term.
Recent research Blackbullion conducted with students at 12 different UK institutions has shown that feeling financially insecure can really impact a student’s ability to thrive while at university. In fact, 38% of students have considered dropping out of university due to financial pressure. While this worrying statistic might fill potential students with dread, I believe that when armed with the right financial knowledge, students can take back control of their finances, make the most of their studies and enter the working world feeling stable and secure.
And I’m not the only one – Blackbullion research with students at the University of Hertfordshire revealed that today’s students are ambitious and eager to take control of their finances. When surveyed, 80% of students said they wanted to take control of their finances and learn more about budgeting. 75% said they wanted to learn about investing, and 60% wanted to know more about saving their money.
Double the number of students actually wanted to invest in the future (50%), than save their money for a festival or holiday (25%), which might come as a surprise to some. However, every day we hear news of house prices rising, graduates moving back in their parents and it taking longer for them to find successful careers in their chosen field. Perhaps this is the driving force behind students focus on preparing themselves for the future.
Financial literacy isn’t a topic that is taught in schools, and not necessarily one that can be simply picked up naturally, so it little surprise that graduates can enter the workplace not really understanding how to manage their debt, income taxes, pensions or the differences between savings accounts. If universities can support students by providing them with training that will equip them with these important life skills, not only can students’ lives be made easier while at university, but they have a better chance of going on to be successful and independent once they graduate.