Advice for parents about the career options for their children

How students can financially sustain themselves through university

It is now an accepted part of academic life that students must work alongside their studies to sustain themselves. The expression "Bank of Mum and Dad" is often quoted in the media but the current situation speaks for itself. The reality is clear to most people. Increasing numbers of young learners do not have the family finances to prop themselves up. They rely on part time and casual employment to manage their day-to-day lives and would not be able to manage without it. The frustrating aspect for many is a significant gap between what is offered in the way of maintenance loans and what a person needs to get by with regards a "living wage".

The struggle to survive is very difficult for young people both physically and psychologically as they try to balance the demands of their coursework with the necessity of their bread and butter. Thankfully there is advice at hand, which helps students both in the midst of uni life and those about to enter into it.


Managing a budget is something many feel should be taught to the upcoming generations at an early stage. It is a major factor behind students abandoning their studies and this could be greatly reduced through better financial management.

For those who find self-discipline difficult at this time in their lives there are various prepaid card options, which help plan personal spending week on week. These are generally available to the public but some are targeted specifically at students. They use apps to monitor spending on the card and warn a customer when their limit is being reached.

It would arguably be better to have students relying on their own wits rather than subscribing to a pre-organized system. They are preparing to make their way in the world and personal responsibility is a crucial skill to develop. So when bearing in mind how to broach the subject of managing finances a balance should be struck between nurturing their development and encouraging independence.


Extracurricular work is a double-edged sword for most students. Experience of the workplace is in some ways healthy as young people leaving the nest for the first time can lack knowledge about teamwork, basic problem solving or how to interact with people socially. These can be key elements of the types of jobs students can obtain to earn extra pennies: factory work and other shift-based work in restaurants, bars etc. 

However more often than not a business has to prioritize profit and cannot be as flexible as a student needs when balancing academia and income. This leads to long hours of work unrelated to the subject being studied, which is only financially helpful in the short term.

A solution to this dilemma lies in university job shops. These forums direct students to positions, which respect their educational commitments. Inevitably this involves work connected to the university. As these vacancies are being advertised within the education sector there is a good understanding of what study entails so employees can "learn as they earn". Another plus point is that on average the pay is better. For further information about job shops, read about this example at the University of Sheffield.

Discounts and deals

While students are required to work around their courses to sustain themselves there is wide acknowledgement in society that many do not have money to burn. Therefore various outlets offer a range of discounts and deals to attract custom. This can be anything from reduced food and drink at cafés and restaurants to more obscure activities such as testing consumer products.

The information is easy to find. Shops prominently display these offers so you can literally walk into a deal. It is well worth getting online to find the best opportunities. Even if that sounds like hard work to a student things like newsletters are regularly sent via e-mail so all they have to do is switch their tablet on.

Travel is a crucial area to look at. Students frequently study miles away from home and the cost of train tickets is hefty for the average pocket. Student Railcards are a long-established way of cutting down the price of getting from doorstep to lecture theatre and are arguably the biggest cost-saving measure a student can take.

And there are of course endless student discounts on fashion, takeaways, beauty and more. However, the thing to consider here is whether you are really "saving" money if you are spending. Try not to buy things just because they are discounted! Here's a handy guide to "programming your mind to stop buying things that you don't need!"