Students ditch healthy eating to save cash

THE FUN is being squeezed out of being a student. No longer are the three years at university a time for fun, carefree experiences – it’s now all about hard work, getting good marks and trying not to spend too much.


Money pressures have seen students spending less on drink, late-night kebabs and socialising, but many are also eating less healthily in a bid to save cash.

Over 80% of students said they try to eat healthily and 75% prepare and cook a meal from scratch using only raw ingredients at least once a week.

However, more than half say they have changed their eating habits because of financial pressures and over two thirds (62%) of these students are eating less healthily as a result. Most students (52%) drink less than 10 units of alcohol each week – with a quarter claiming they do not drink at all.

The findings are part of the 2012 Sodexo University Lifestyle Survey published in association with Times Higher Education magazine.

The study also found that 14% of students do not socialise at all. In line with this trend, very little is spent on socialising with 75% (up from 62% in 2008) of students spending less than £20 a week on socialising.

Commenting on the survey results Peter Taylor, head of Universities at Sodexo, said: “Students continue to spend less on socialising and are eating less healthily as a result of financial pressures. These trends are likely to increase when students begin paying higher fees.”

When asked what they would like their universities to spend more money on to improve the student experience,  the second biggest demand, for around 15% of students, was better social facilities such as cafés, social space and student union facilities. Other findings included:

  • When buying food from a university catering outlet it is no surprise that price is the top consideration (70% stated this)
  • For those students who buy lunch from a university café or canteen, 94% spend less than £5.
  • Students looking for quality when buying from a campus catering outlet, has dropped with 55% stating this as a factor in 2012 compared to 65% in 2010.
  • Value for money, although still third on the list, has become a more important consideration with 34% of students stating this in 2010 compared to 45% today.
  • Concern for the provenance of the food they are buying does influence around half of all students with 59% and 57% stating they ‘might’ or ‘definitely would’ pay a premium price for Fairtrade or free range produce, respectively.
  • Some 53% felt strong enough to consider the higher price for locally sourced and 51% for UK-sourced  foods.