THE MYTH ABOUT STUDENTS AND THEIR FINANCES




Financial troubles are rife amongst students, and so are stereotypes which surround it. Having limited money at university cannot be simply blamed on a lack of financial know how; it would be reductive to simplify the student experience to a proficiency in buying two Tesco meal deals for lunch. Yes, students spend money, but, as anyone who has ever been in B&Q on a Sunday morning will tell you: so does everyone else. Such a generalising stereotype plays into perceptions of student life because of the nature of the lifestyle. This represents a belief that the day-to-day student experience must consist primarily of socialising, therefore any financial problems that a student may have is ultimately due to their own mistakes and inability to budget effectively. We need to debunk this misconception of student life. Firstly, universities are, by nature, far too expensive, riddling students with debt to serve their own financial growth. Nobody should pay north of £9000-a-year to spend it trying not to cough in lectures; the financial situation of students is a product of the structure and intention of universities. Such a stereotype is dangerous, tying an already-stressful financial situation to the idea that it is your fault, a product of your own choices. This is false: students should be able to live comfortably at university, focusing their energy on carving out a unique identity by forming new links within exciting social and academic circles. We are instead told that this idea is problematic and irresponsible, often by those who maintain the system which is designed at the cost of the very students that it claims to service. In fact, we are never actually taught how to budget, understand bills and maintain our finances, and are instead thrown head-first into a chaotic and overwhelming world that we are forced to survive in. Nobody should have to eat a Pot Noodle sandwich, even if it does taste slightly better than you'd think. Universities can be wonderful places, drawing students from a huge range of backgrounds, but within this lies the inevitability of some people having more money than others. This has always been the case. Crucially, how a student views their own existence depends on the perception of others, and ridding ourselves of a culture of blaming students for their own finances represents a huge step forwards. Ultimately, struggling with money is common amongst students, but nobody needs to be told it’s their fault.


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