As universities across the country open their doors to another academic year and a new intake of freshers, it seems today’s students are prepared to look beyond their text books when it comes to their future career. Indeed, new research from Mintel finds over half (54%) of students are prepared to take a job not related to their qualification in order to start earning money. Further showing the high motivation levels of students in Britain today, just 2% say they don’t know what they will do after leaving university.

For today’s students it seems ambition is the order of the day as seven in 10 (70%) UK full-time students claim being successful in their future career is very important to them. However, just half (47%) say that they are confident about their job prospects after leaving university and only one in ten (11%) say they tend not to worry about the future, falling to 4% of females aged 18-20.

And it seems there is reason to believe that the tuition fees have given students added focus to the outcome of their studies as 43% think the higher tuition fees have made students think more carefully about which subjects to study at university. The implementation of the fees also seems to have raised students expectations of their universities as half (51%) of students think the institutions should provide more services or do more for their students if they increase tuition fees further.

Ina Miskavets, Senior Consumer and Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Today’s students are highly ambitious, yet cautiously optimistic about their prospects after graduation, in light of continually high youth unemployment. Students in their first and second years at English universities have become more aware that there is a bigger cost (and debt burden) associated with getting a degree and have upgraded their expectations of what their education should deliver as a result.”

“The decision to raise university fees has had an impact on student thinking, as they now see themselves more as consumers than they used to and want the best possible degree they can get in return for higher fees. Students are more aware of what they should expect from their university if they and their families pay more for education and are becoming more demanding as a result.”

The strain of the higher tuition fees becomes clear in Mintel’s latest research as one in four (25%) say the increased tuition fees has put a lot of financial pressure on them or their family, rising to one in three (32%) third years and 30% of second years.

Despite this increased pressure, a third (32%) say that their parents don’t mind what they do after leaving university, with less than one in seven (14%) saying their parents expect them to follow a certain career path after leaving university. Further demonstrating the relaxed approach British parents seem to be taking, just 13% of students are worried about pressure from their parents to get good grades.

But while students may not be feeling the fear from their parents, some 56% say they worry about having too much work, with this being the main concern for UK students today. Second to this is an anxiety over bank balances as 54% say they are concerned about not having enough money. Despite the concern, the overwhelming majority (86%) claim they get by or have money left at the end of the month, with just 14% saying they are constantly in their overdraft or have fallen behind with credit card payments or other bills.

“Gone are the days of the stereotypical slacker student, with many of today’s full-time university students in work to finance their cost of living and rising expenses associated with going to university. Higher educational institutions would benefit from bowing to the growing consumer pressure from students to improve services after widespread hikes in tuition fees. Universities could do more to accommodate students juggling studies with a job, including extending library opening hours or having it open 24/7 to accommodate busy schedules and work shifts.” continues Ina.

When it comes to the cost of living, Mintel’s research reveals the average student spends £669 every month, with a further £56 put into savings. Close to half (46%) of their monthly income is spent on rent and bills and an additional 19% is spent on groceries. On average, male students over 21 spend the most with a mean monthly spend of £785, whilst female students aged 18-20 appear more frugal with an average spend of £685.

However, the research also shows large discrepancies in spend by location. Whilst students in London and the East spend on average £389 a month on rent and bills, those in the East and West Midlands spend over a quarter less at £273. With food and non-alcoholic drink bills however students in the North East and Scotland spend the most at £37 per week, whilst those in the East and West Midlands and the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside spend £27. Additionally, suggesting the effects of higher living costs, students in London and the East are able to set aside just £49 a month in savings, which rises to £74 for students in the North East and Scotland.

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