Piggy banks

Students gambling their loans to afford rising costs of living, survey says

Thousands of British students are gambling some or all of their student loans in an effort to make ends meet, with many ending up with debts of £5,000 or more, a new study suggests.

A report by the National Union of Students (NUS) says financial support for students provided by the government has failed to keep up with the soaring costs of living, and an increasing number of students have looked to gambling to make up the difference. As the pound continues to slide in value as Brexit uncertainty continues, students’ budgets are getting ever more strained, and the situation is unlikely to improve without action from Westminster.

The poll of more than 1,600 students found that eight per cent of students had used some or all of their student loan to gamble, which would amount to around 100,000 young people if the results were reflected across the UK. Even more worrying is that nearly half of those that had gambled with their loans have accrued debts in excess of £1,000, and one in five in excess of £5,000.

Few people are concerned about students having a fun two pound wager amongst their friends to bet South Africa will win the upcoming Rugby World Cup, even of they are looking like front-runners to many sports fans right now. No, this is students using their student loans, which they need to pay for rent and food during term time, and gambling that money in the vague hope that they might make a profit.

Students who do not have money they can afford to lose are turning to real money online casinos and matched betting options to try and make ends meet, which can result in financial difficulties for those that don’t end up with luck on their side. Gambling should be a fun pass-time for those who have the funds available and are prepared to lose their bets – it is a sad state of affairs that students are being pushed to gamble their living money to try and make ends meet.

The rise of technology has made gambling more widely available than ever, but students need to be taught how gamble responsibly and that help and support is available for those that have taken a wrong turn. For most students, the arrival of their student loans funds is the first time they have had thousands of pounds at their disposal, and it is critical that they choose to spend these limited funds wisely. The government needs to step up and provide better support, but gambling education is key to making sure people are financially responsible.

Photograph by Low Jianwei

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