An NUS survey has discovered that around 100,000 students gamble their loans in a bid to increase their funds.
The findings revealed that three in five students have gambled their money over the past year and that nearly half of them did so to supplement their own income.
The poll also found that more than 1,600 students had accrued debts in excess of £1,000, with one in five owing more than £5,000.
Jason Heffron, a student at the University of Birmingham, was one of the individuals who turned to betting his loan at “vulnerable times” that he often “couldn’t afford to lose”.
In his second year, Mr Heffron lost £500 in the space of a few weeks which ultimately led him to use £1,000 from his overdraft to pay for his rent.
When you are at university, when you are a bit more vulnerable to the benefits financially, you chase that high. You are only living off a few hundred pounds for a few months
– Mr Heffron
He said: “When you are at university, when you are a bit more vulnerable to the benefits financially, you chase that high. You are only living off a few hundred pounds for a few months.
“A rise in living cost is definitely a problem. Rent prices are crazy for most major cities now. Most student loans don’t cover rent so you need financial support before you even think about living.”
NUS vice president for welfare, Eva Crossan Jory told The Independent: “Students have said the only way that they can pay rent is to gamble. That is really worrying.
“I think anecdotally more students are relying on gambling as a means of finance rather than just doing it for fun. I think previously people were not doing it as much as a means of survival.”
Helen Rhodes, the programme director of the Gambling Commission, said: “The results add extra emphasis that there is a significant risk for young adults and for students that needs to be addressed, and we welcome the part the NUS is playing to do so.”
Ms Crossan has suggested that the government “renews” its “focus” on “the reasons why some students feel it’s necessary to supplement their income through gambling – which not only land students in even greater debt, but also can lead to feelings of guilt, stress and depression.”