Courses and costs seem to be greatest concerns

A survey of third-level students suggests that their lifestyle is not as bad as we might have thought

Most (59 per cent) students party once a week, with a quarter claiming they don’t go to parties or clubs at all.

Most (59 per cent) students party once a week, with a quarter claiming they don’t go to parties or clubs at all.

 

Campus.ie’s annual national student survey suggests that students are moving away from the debauched lifestyle we all like to imagine they live.

When it comes to smoking, they’re not all puffing away outside the library – three in 10 are, which is about the national average, according to last year’s HSE stats. In the nationwide survey of 4,583 students in Ireland conducted by Campus.ie, seven out of 10 students describe themselves as “not regular smokers”.

About half say that they only drink between one to six drinks a week, with 10 per cent saying they do not drink at all. Of those who do drink, 80 per cent of students are under the weekly maximum units recommended by the Health Service Executive (up to 11 for women and up to 17 for men), according to responses to this study.

Health

Most (59 per cent) students party once a week, with a quarter claiming they don’t go to parties or clubs at all. When they do go out, students are spending an average of €22.13 on alcohol on a night out.

Drug use is not at epidemic proportions, according to this study – two students in three claim never to have taken drugs at all. Among the third of students who have taken drugs, about a quarter have tried hard drugs with the remainder ’fessing up to smoking marijuana.

One in five students surveyed is not sexually active, they report. A further fifth of respondents said that they had one sexual partner and another fifth claim to have slept with from two to five people. Only 3 per cent of the sexually active group admit to not using contraception.

The researchers at campus.ie see all this as evidence that Irish students are wising up and lowering their health risks, but despite this, they say, all is not rosy on Irish campuses.

“Although students may be lowering their health risks, a striking 45 per cent have either considered dropping out of their college course or actually have, with the most popular reasons given being that they didn’t like the course (19 per cent), stress (9 per cent) or mental health (5 per cent),” says campus.ie editor Hannah Popham.

The research also has much to say about the economic circumstances of Irish students. Many are financially reliant on their parents, with two-fifths depending on their family to support them financially while in college, while a quarter of students depend on a grant.

One fifth say they work to support themselves, committing an average of 12.6 hours a week to part time jobs.

The cost of living for students who don’t live with their parents is high – more than €300 a month on rent alone. One in four students said their shopping was done by their parents: those who did their own said they spent an average of €33.63 a week.

Travelling costs are significant for all students, who have to set aside an average of nearly €100 a month just to get to and from college. A big expense comes in the form of laptops: 96 per cent of students own one, at an average outlay of €579.20.

When you take all these costs into consideration and then add the €2,750 student registration fee, it is estimated that the average cost for a student for the nine months of college is approximately €8,283.76.

Campus.ie closes the survey report by reminding readers just how valuable students are to the economy, both locally through rents and money spent in shops and venues, and nationally, through the registration fee. According to the Central Statistics Office, there were 200,160 third-level students registered in 2013: all costs considered, that is a contribution of almost €1.7 billion.

Are students living the high life? The numbers

How many students are regular smokers? 30 per cent.

How many students are regular drinkers? 90 per cent, but the majority of those (80 per cent) claims to drink within safe health limits.

How much do students spend on drink in a night out? About €22.

How hard do students party? Sixty per cent party once a week, 25 per cent don’t party at all, 15 per cent party hard.

How many students are sexually active? 80 per cent.

How many are seriously sexually active? One-fifth claim to have slept with more than three people.

How many take, or have taken, drugs? One in three.

The information in this report was compiled by campus.ie using an online survey of Irish higher- and further-level students. There were 4,583 respondents.

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