James, not his real name, is a fine art student in Sheffield who is selling cannabis instead of getting a part-time job. If caught, James could face the possibilities of receiving a criminal record or even a prison sentence; however, with most students facing the fear of leaving university with vast amounts of debts, James is using a highly illegal fast track money making method to stay financially secure.
In the latest estimate by push.co.uk, students who started higher education from 2008 to 2010 could expect to owe an average of £21,500 on graduation. Also, a recent survey commissioned by the National Union of Students found that 24% of students had high levels of concern about the debts they will accumulate whilst at university.
James, however, does not fall into the 24% category of students who are worried about their debts as he is making anything between £160 and £240 each week. This money enables James to live an extremely comfortable student life style, not having to worry about an overdraft or borrowing money from his family members, however, he knows the risk he is taking is extremely huge.
In 2008, banking giant HSBC was left red-faced after backing magazine ‘The Student Guide’ in its advice that hard-up students should sell drugs. The finance section advised readers to “hook up with a decent drug dealer and buy in large amounts. You have access to drugs so start thinking smart.”
The article, titled ‘Student Debt – Who Gives A ****?’ caused great controversy and although it was published in jest, a HSBC spokesman said: “Its tongue and cheek, we don’t condone drug taking.”
Although the article was not meant to be taken seriously, James evaluated his situation and ended up doing exactly what ‘The Student Guide’ so playful recommended and is currently reaping in the financial rewards.
There are over 55,000 students in Sheffield, meaning flexible working hours and an appealing CV is a must in order to pin-down a part-time job. Although James resorted to drug dealing in order to make his money, he urges other students to not do the same: “I could have got caught in my first week, and I could have been straight off my university course, straight back home living with mum and dad, if I was lucky, I could have been even looking at a jail sentence or a hefty fine and a criminal record.”