Working up a debt: students as vulnerable consumers

Jillian Farquhar, Julie Robson, Christopher Hindle

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    Students are recognized as vulnerable consumers where financial matters are concerned, particularly with reference to indebtedness. This study examines student indebtedness in order to initiate wider debate about student vulnerability. We consider vulnerability as dynamic and temporal, linked to an event that renders the consumer susceptible to becoming vulnerable. Using data collected from a relatively small-scale survey of UK university students, the key findings are: reasons for debt are many and varied, typically linked to changes associated with study year; the placement year is a critical time for student debt in response to changes in circumstances and specifically lifestyle expectations; students are not accessing the best sources of advice to help them with financial decisions; and the findings suggest student insouciance towards debt with potential long-term consequences. This study extends existing knowledge of consumer vulnerability and calls for greater efforts to be made to raise awareness about student indebtedness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)274-289
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Marketing for Higher Education
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2017


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