More than half of students fear they'll never pay off debt

More than half of undergraduates fear they will never pay off their student loan, according to a poll that reveals many aim to reduce debt by working while studying.

Research from Nationwide FlexStudent - the UK’s only fee-free student current account - highlights that some four in ten (43%) students work during term time, putting in an average of just under 13 hours per week (13%).

However, around a fifth (18%) of students work in excess of 18 hours a week with three per cent working more than 30 hours on top of their studies. More than one in ten (13%) hold down more than one job.

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While most students work to finance their social life (64%), four in ten (40%) do so simply to lower post-university debt, which according to the survey of more than 1,000 UK students is £41,348 on average. Indeed, debt is classed as one of the main worries by around half of the students (48%) who took the poll.

The research shows that around one in six (16%) students would consider getting an additional job if they were struggling for money at university, while 15 per cent would put in more hours at their existing job.

However, parental support still tops the list, with four in ten (40%) claiming they would turn to mum and dad for help. And while nearly one in five (18%) would use their overdraft – a common fall-back for students – just one per cent would resort to using a payday loan.

Types of job:

When choosing a job, three quarters of students (75%) think the most important factor is flexible hours closely followed by good pay (71%). The top five jobs for students are:

Retail Assistant - 30%

Waiter/Waitress - 18%

Barista - 11%

Bartending - 9%

Supermarket Assistant - 7%

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As well as making money, students are very savvy at saving. The top ten ways students save money, according to the survey, are:

Shopping in discount stores

Buying reduced items in supermarkets

Using a railcard

Using NUS discount card


Dan King, Nationwide Building Society’s Head of Current Account Product Management, said: “The high cost of tuition fees has meant that many students are leaving university with tens of thousands of pounds to pay back. Chipping away at this mountain of debt is the reason why many students earn while they learn, with one in ten having multiple jobs.

“The majority of students take on traditional jobs in shops, restaurants and bars, but many are using technology to their advantage and creating online businesses which they can carry on with post university. While these jobs are helping students fund their way through university, they are also allowing them to gain valuable workplace experience which will help give them a head start when it comes time to start their career properly.”

Nationwide’s FlexStudent is the UK’s only completely fee-free student current account. It offers an overdraft which grows from £1,000 in the first year of University to £3,000 in year three. The account offers 1% AER in credit interest on balances up to £1,000 and is linked to Nationwide’s Simply Rewards cashback shopping scheme.