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Student News

Students turn to drug trials, gambling and adult work to make money

Our 2017 National Student Money Survey has revealed the worrying ways in which students are trying to balance the books.

Student gamblingCredit: Saul Vera - Flickr

Up to 7% of the UK's students are turning to drug trials, gambling and even adult work to help boost their finances.

A troubling 2% of you have used adult work as a way to make ends meet, with the same proportion resorting to drug trials. Gambling is over three times as popular, with 7% telling us that they've used it as a way to make money.

But the bad news doesn't end there. When we asked students what they'd do to make money in a cash crisis, the overall number rose to almost one in 10, with 4% turning to gambling, 5% resorting to adult work and 9% taking part in drug trials.

What is 'adult work'?

We've used adult work as a broad term to describe a whole range of things involving making money from sex (or related activities). This includes everything from 'sugar dating' (being paid to date someone, but not necessarily have sex with them), to selling dirty underwear and even prostitution.

Here are just a few of the responses we had to the question 'What is the strangest way you've ever earned money?':

– Selling shoes to foot fetishist

– Piss on a man

– Sexting

– Dating sugar daddies

– Doing live adult cam shows

– Sex work, I guess, even if I'm not sure that's "strange". Some of it can be strange

– Selling used underwear

– Phone sex.

What else are students doing to make money?

We mentioned that 2% of students have taken part in drug trials to make money (9% in a cash crisis), but that's not the only way in which students have turned being a guinea pig into something of a cash cow. Our survey found that UK undergrads have been taking part in all kinds of studies in exchange for some extra cash:

– Study about anxiety (which made my anxiety worse)

– Took part in a research study where I had to look at disturbing images and say how I felt

– Had a sample of my skin taken for a £50 intu voucher

– Volunteering for a medical survey that involves cutting a small muscle from my thigh.

As shocking as some of these stories may sound, the fact that students are turning to strange and occasionally dangerous sources of income is no real surprise. A whopping 66% of students said that the Maintenance Loan isn't enough to live on, and 57% reckon Student Finance is unfair.

Money problems as a student

What's more, half of all respondents to our survey said that their mental health suffers as a result of money problems, with 42% claiming it also took a toll on their relationships with friends and family. Money can't buy you love or happiness, but for UK students, a serious lack of cash seems to be damaging their prospects in both areas.

Safer ways to make ends meet

We're shocked that students are taking these kinds of risks to make some extra cash. It's not just gambling, adult work and gambling either – 2% of students are turning to payday loans too.

Fortunately there are tons of safe ways to make money as a student. In fact, it's basically Save the Student's whole reason for being!

Have a flick through our 40 easy ways to make money quickly, or if you've got a little more time on your hands, check out our whole section on making money!

Tom Allingham

WRITTEN BY Tom Allingham

Tom joined Save the Student in 2017, initially heading up the editorial team before becoming Communications Director. He has appeared as a Student Finance expert on a range of TV and radio stations including the BBC, ITV and Sky, sharing his top tips for saving money and cutting student bills.
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