How much is Freshers' Week costing your teen? Recent research shows that students can spend close to £400 in Freshers' Week. Put this in the context of the average annual student maintenance loan of £1500 and the reality of the maths is scary.
As the mother to a Fresher myself this year, I know first hand the financial pressures involved and whilst staggering, sadly this figure does not surprise me. What does surprise me is that the biggest spending city isn't London but Edinburgh, with past and present students spending an average of £426 during Freshers' Week and Bristol students spending the least at £334.
Tuition fees and accommodation costs aside, before even setting foot on campus for Freshers' Week, students have numerous start up expenses including insurance, the TV licence fee, access to the university internet, a student rail card and of course books. Some of these costs span generations but for the 21st century student, the impact of inflation on day to day living, makes that first week so much tougher.
Paying for entry to Freshers' parties, signing up to become a member of various clubs and societies and simply going out and being sociable with new-found friends, places huge financial pressure upon our teens and it is easy to see how this number can be reached so quickly.
For many leaving home for the first time, keeping track of their spending is a daunting task. Going through our son's allowance with him last week before he headed off, it suddenly dawned on him that he would need to manage his budget carefully. Yet after only 72 hours he expressed concern about exceeding his allowance.
Has peer pressure got anything to do with it? Well no doubt as a young teen trying to make an impression and not wanting to be left out of the party bubble in the first week, no doubt it has.Student Advice Manager, Chris Wright at LSBU told me
For many students when they get their student loan it is the first time they are receiving such a significant amount of money in one go, therefore it is easy for them to overspend during Freshers' as they think they will have a lot left. Freshers' is an opportunity for many to meet new people and to have a good time; everyone is trying to keep up as they do not want to be left out. Therefore many will spend money not taking into account that other students are maybe spending money they have saved over the summer or that their parents have given them, or that they have earnt.
So what should students do to minimise their debt in Freshers' Week? Well my advice to my teen was avoid going out every night. Some low key nights getting to know people are good. Avoid eating out and ordering takeaways. Take cash when going out and leave cards behind. Contactless payments are a devil to anyone, let alone a young teen starting out alone on a budget.
In the meantime, I like many other parents no doubt, hope our son won't be one of those waking up after Freshers' Week with a financial hangover.