One in 10 undergraduates 'have slipped behind with bills in recent months'

PA

Around one in 10 undergraduate students have fallen behind on or missed payments in the previous six months, a survey from a Government-backed body has found.

Some 11% of students surveyed in April had fallen behind or missed payments on university accommodation, credit cards, household bills or other debts in the previous six months.

The research was released by the Money Advice Service (MAS), a body set up by Government to offer money tips.

The survey was released in partnership with the National Association of Student Money Advisers (Nasma).

It warned that some students could be at risk falling into a "debt spiral".

The report said a fifth (21%) of students owe more money in 2018 than they did last year, which it described as "a concerning trend, particularly when interest rates are on the rise".

A fifth (20%) of students surveyed find themselves frequently overdrawn.

Two-fifths (40%) of those who have been overdrawn previously have used an unauthorised overdraft, meaning they may have faced additional charges and fees.

In total, 38% of students surveyed have some form of outstanding non-student loan debt, with just under one in five (18%) owing £1,000 or more.

While for many students this was on overdrafts or credit cards, some students said they had turned to payday loans to make ends meet.

2021 UK City of Culture
2021 UK City of Culture

The survey of over 5,000 full-time undergraduate students across the UK also found that nearly three-quarters (73%) say they feel confident managing their finances.

More than three-quarters (77%) have some savings, with two-fifths (40%) saving money most months of the year.

Student are most likely to be saving for a holiday, living expenses after graduation or a deposit to purchase a home in future, the survey found.

Joe Surtees, policy manager at the MAS, said that while most students show signs of being financially capable, "a significant minority are still struggling with their finances, which may increase the chances of falling into a spiral of debt in the future".

Wendy Bainham from Nasma's financial capability committee said: "It can be a challenge managing money as a student, as you are often left with lump sums to carefully budget out over a period of months."

The MAS and the Nasma have an online tool looking at different financial personalities to help students improve their financial capability.

More information is at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/corporate/student-financial-capability-research.