Europe

More than half of students skip class to work so they can pay for rising rents

More than 50pc of students reported skipping lectures to work, as they struggle to pay soaring rents.

Some 15pc of students said they would cut down on food to afford living costs and 11pc admitted avoiding medical check-ups to deal with the financial burden.

The number of students missing lectures to earn money rose by 33 percentage points compared to the 22pc figure in 2017, according to the Irish League of Credit Unions survey.

More than half (55pc) said they missed college and university to work as they paid their way through education.

Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) spokesman Paul Bailey said: “The realities of the impact of financial pressure on third-level students is apparent in this survey.

“It’s of concern to see finance and debt is such a significant worry for so many students.

“At a time when they should be focusing on their education, it’s worrying to see that greater numbers are skipping lectures and sacrificing time spent on their education in order to earn some extra money.”

Six in 19 said having to work has a negative effect on their studies. Of these, three-quarters stated they had to work, and seven in 10 were working part-time.

On average, students were working almost 15 hours a week (14.8 hours), earning just over €10 an hour.

Students who lived outside their family home were spending €1,047 a month, while those at home spent €738.

The study stated finance and debt issues were a student’s “biggest worries”, with 57pc admitting to having no budget or financial plan.

Those surveyed said their biggest monthly expense was rent at an average of €318 a month, followed by food at €116.

Students spent €88 on average each month on travel costs and €74 on utility bills. Some 40pc admitted cutting spending on their social life and 18pc are sacrificing buying clothes.

The majority reported financial or debt-related worries having a negative effect.

They reported splitting their time between paid work and lectures and had no time for anything else – 22pc reported having no money for anything outside of class, while 18pc said financial worries were a significant source of stress and affected their mental health.

More than two-thirds (69pc) struggle financially. And of these, more than a quarter (27pc) said the costs associated with going to college are a significant financial burden.

Meanwhile, 42pc said it was difficult financially, but they managed to get by.

The majority struggling financially turned to parents or family for help, while 22pc went to a credit union.

More than a third surveyed (34pc) expected third-level education to leave them or their family in debt after graduation. Many were in favour of abolishing third-level fees (43pc) and returning to State-funded education.

More than a quarter said fees should be covered by the student and/or their families, but with a reduction.

The survey revealed 57pc didn’t have a financial plan or budget to help with costs. Almost half of students said their third-level institution did not provide assistance with financial or budgeting advice.

Some 56pc said the importance of budgeting or planning for third level was not adequately conveyed to them during secondary school.

The ILCU said it offers students guidance and budgeting advice when needed.

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