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Students resort to ‘exploitative work’ to pay off debt

With the increase in student fees, reports suggest students are resorting to extreme measures to make ends meet.

Findings suggest that almost 77% of students work to fund their studies. However, courses such as nursing or midwifery undertake lectures as well as placement hours. This means that part-time jobs aren’t always possible. As a result, many students are seeking jobs which are exploitative and even dangerous. This was affirmed by the Save The Student's 2018 National Student Money Survey, which discovered that up to 5% of UK students are turning to drug trials, gambling and adult work to help pay the bills.

According to the Gambling Commission, two-thirds of students gambled in the last month — with half doing it to make money. As well as gambling, reports have shown an increase in young women engaging in ‘naked cleaning agencies’. This involves cleaning a client's house topless or naked. Although many of the agencies do not provide sexual favours, research shows it could be available for an added cost. With individuals strapped for cash, the notion of £20 extra an hour to clean naked may drive young women to position themselves in these exploitative situations. 

Save the Student’s annual survey found that unconventional money-making schemes included: sending foot pictures to someone with a foot fetish in exchange for money and selling dirty underwear. This suggests that students are resorting to potentially worrying methods for extra cash. In response, Stacey Turner, Managing Director at online student bill-sharing tool Split the Bills, said:

“The fact that many students are putting themselves in exploitative, sometimes dangerous situations to help fund their time at university shouldn’t be taken lightly — it shows just how much financial pressure they are under, with overall costs set to rise even further.

It’s worrying that, out of an unavoidable need for extra cash, students are doing things they wouldn’t necessarily choose to do otherwise, which in addition to the money worries could affect their mental health in the long run.”

So, what can students do to avoid these extreme measures?

Split The Bills have provided alternatives on earning extra money safely, such as: 

  • Blogging or starting your own website
  • No-risk matched betting
  • Selling second-hand textbooks
  • Taking part in online surveys
  • Reviewing music, websites and apps for money.
Remember: money issues may not always be avoidable, but seeking help and keeping yourself safe is what's important.

For free and impartial financial advice, head to the Money Advice Service website.

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