In an attempt to cope with extortionate tuition fees and the rising costs of living, a growing number of students are engaging in ‘risky’ fields of work to fund their studies.
Typically, the student body work in waitressing or bartending, but these minimum wage jobs are no longer enough to get students through their time at University. A disturbing statistic came from this year’s National Student Money Survey on the ‘Save the Student’ website which revealed that 80 per cent of British students worry about making ends meet. The survey also showed that more than half of the student body believe their financial issues hinder their academic performance. Furthermore, 65 per cent of respondents believed that their diet suffered as a result of their struggle to afford university, with multiple respondents admitting to skipping meals.
Reports and personal accounts highlight that the maintenance loan simply doesn’t stretch far enough for the majority of students. One student says that they have “3 part-time jobs totaling 40 hours of work a week and still don’t have enough for the basics.” In order to cope with such financial issues, the National Student Money Survey reveals that one in ten students are taking risks including gambling or using their bodies.
The risky ways in which students earn money to afford university are wide-ranging and in many cases shocking. For instance, the findings of an academic from Swansea University suggests that one in 20 UK students have worked in the sex industry to fund their studies, with more males than females likely to be involved. For instance, one student admitted to doing webcam shows where you can make between £1 to £2 a minute. Given that the minimum wage for those under 21 is just a mere £5.30 there is no surprise why £2 a minute would be appealing. She also admitted to selling used underwear on trading websites to make over £100 a month. Equally, many girls engage in escorting or acting as a ‘professional companion’ in larger cities such as Manchester and London.
It was reported earlier this year that almost a quarter of a million of UK students were acting as ‘sugar babies.’ Their sugar ‘mummies and daddies’ would provide their ‘babies’ with gifts and money in return for attention and friendship to ease their financial struggles. A philosophy student who acted as a ‘sugar baby’ described how the work quickly became more precarious and older men would ask to meet in suspicious or dangerous areas and request nude photos.
The sale of Nitrous Oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’ or ‘NOS,’ has also become extremely popular amongst students. Despite the tightening of government laws around NOS, students are still a few searches on the internet away from ordering thousands of canisters. Students from the University of Surrey described how they would sell NOS at parties or pre-drinks on campus and that they would typically make £10 to £25 a night. The possible side effects of inhaling the gas include hallucinations and even the danger of death from lack of oxygen. Alarmingly, students are chancing with the lives of fellow students by selling such products.
An obsession that often follows students throughout their later life is gambling and increasingly, students are attempting to make some extra cash through betting. Many students, and especially male students, believe that their knowledge of football will be enough to succeed at online gambling. Students are likely to speculate that putting their winnings on more bets is sensible given that the money was never technically their own to begin with. The obvious danger, however, is that they are only a click of a button away from loosing it all again. A student from the University of Leeds, for example, says that even though he has placed bets every week for the past two years, he is still unsure whether he has lost or gained money.
After the latest announcement of a further hike in tuition fees by £250 a year, students are facing ever growing financial burdens to push them into risky lines of work.