The National Union of Students (NUS) has called on more UK universities to get behind its campaign aimed at protecting students from marketing by payday loan companies.
Payday loan adverts are already banned from campus at the University of East London and now the universities of Northampton, Northumbria and Swansea have all joined the fold.
Lenders have been branded as ‘hugely irresponsible’ for targeting students struggling with financial debt and students are warned they risk becoming financially destitute or desperate through taking out high-interest loans.
Already this year the Office of Fair Trading has found evidence of ‘widespread irresponsible lending’ practices in such companies, including firms that appeared heavily reliant on struggling customers who cannot afford to pay back their loans. Quelle surprise.
According to the NUS, 3% of college and university students have taken out high risk debt (which includes doorstep loans, payday loans and cheque cashers) rising to 6% of over 21-year-olds and 10% of students who are parents. Students who are carers for dependent adults are three times more likely to take out a high-risk debt.
Anyone who’s been to university knows that worrying about cash flow is part and parcel of student life, and recent research by the NUS shows two thirds of students are not able to concentrate fully on their studies due to such concerns, with half of all undergraduates regularly worrying about meeting the cost of basic living expenses.
The problem is that university fees and living expenses have risen steeply over the last 10 years whilst student loans and other forms of monetary support have flatlined.
In my experience payday loans can be used as a last resort only when forced into a tight spot – and for anyone about to start university that’s going to happen at least once during the course of your studies for one reason or another. What’s important is that you stay on top of things and don’t start relying on them, that’s when the vicious circle starts turning.
Prospective students should take a look at our top tips for making money while at university to help keep the wolf from the door, and check out my advice for dodging those avoidable university fines.