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Middle-class students live high life staying at home

MIDDLE-class college students who live at home spend more money on drinking, smoking and socialising than any other group of undergraduates.

New research reveals that the biggest monthly expenditure for stay-at-home students is their social life at €165 on average, compared to an average of €154 spent on clothes, toiletries, mobiles, transport, and loan repayments.

But they are the lucky ones. Many disadvantaged students, mature students and those with disabilities are struggling financially and don't have the same hectic lifestyle, according to a study from the Economic and Social Research Institute.

A total of 1,000 students were surveyed and one in eight said they had less money than they needed in college.


The report says the average monthly spend by a student living at home is €406 and €925 for those living away.

The figures include spending on food, regular bills, loan repayments, clothing, toiletries, mobiles, transport and socialising. But the figures do not include medical expenses or spending on accommodation, books and equipment. Nor do they include registration charges, which have gone up from €900 to €1,500.

Accommodation costs are higher in Dublin, Cork and Limerick than in other towns or cities with third-level colleges. Books were blamed by most students as causing significant, and sometimes unexpected, financial strain, according to the report commissioned by the Higher Education Authority.

Students studying maths, science, engineering and agriculture/veterinary courses spend the least amount on books and materials at around €22-€23 a month on 2008 prices. Those in law, education and the humanities/arts spend the greatest amount on books and materials, averaging between €36 and €41.

For both full-time and part-time students, spending on direct course costs (eg books, computers and equipment) was found to be higher in first year.

The research shows that students from more disadvantaged backgrounds spend less money on social activities and they spend less time participating in college clubs, societies and sports. One access student told researchers: "No, I couldn't afford to go to anything. They have judo in college. They (the lessons) are subsidised, but they're still four or five euro a time. That's milk and bread for the week."

Overall, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be dissatisfied with their financial and material well-being.

In general, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more reliant than students from other social groups on state support and social welfare to meet the costs of college.

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Irish Independent