Student debt blamed on luxurious lifestyles with at university
Oct 10 2009
A "luxurious" student lifestyle involving smoked salmon sandwiches, cappuccinos and iPods is to blame for record levels of student debt, according to a professor.
The typical student house is no longer like the fleapit portrayed in 1980s sitcom The Young Ones and more like an English version of Friends, Kevin Sharpe, professor of renaissance studies at Queen Mary University of London, wrote in the Times Higher Education magazine.
He said today's "posh pads" were a far cry from his time at Oxford where in a student house he rented the carpets were "held together by accumulated grime" and the furnishings would not even have been accepted by the charity shop.
"In the town where I live at weekends, students pour not from Aldi but from Waitrose, with bottles of wine and champagne as well as bottled water (bottled water!), expensive foods and snacks," he wrote.
"Taxi drivers lament the vacations, when their trade is depressed and whole parts of the city lose their bar and restaurant customers (I can hardly remember going out for dinner as a student).
"Student homes are often equipped with large LCD TVs, Sky boxes and, as burglars have been quick to spot, several high-end laptops per dwelling, offering richer pickings than normal domestic residences, including those of lecturers."
Prof Sharpe said in one university town he witnessed students spending more than £5 on a snack lunch at Marks & Spencer, plugging into the latest iPods, and speaking on their mobiles for long periods at peak times.
He said: "On that campus, the (costly) coffee bars are crowded all day as students queue to consume four or five cappuccinos at nearly £2 a time, along with freshly squeezed O.J. and smoked salmon sandwiches."
He said last year he even spotted a "handful" of gold American Express cards.
Prof Sharpe said his travel to various university towns showed how many students now live a middle-class lifestyle financed by the "bank of mum and dad" and for the less well-off anxious to keep up with their peers, the "inevitable consequence is debt".