Students and their money are soon parted - but not this year's cohort
Who is the cheapest mobile phone provider? Where should you go to find the best deal for insurance? These were just two of the questions asked in one of the quizzes run at Anniesland College in Glasgow recently as part of Money Matters Week.
Money is by far the biggest concern for Scottish students, according to a Government survey last year. Student debts are rising, and part-time jobs are becoming harder to come by. With this in mind, the college organised a week of events which saw students make blinds, taste different brands of biscuits, and receive beauty tips.
Lynn McGurk, employability co-ordinator at the college, arranged it. "It came about as part of a student employment week run by the National Association of Student Employment Services," she says.
"At the same time, the Financial Services Authority made contact about running a project to involve students in thinking about money. They were keen for colleges to run events and organised training for their Money for Life programme, as well as showing students internet tools for budgeting."
Each day had a different theme. Tuesday's focus was on household budgeting, and the college's interior design students ran workshops where they demonstrated how to make draught excluders, cushions, and even blinds.
On Wednesday, the theme was food budgeting and healthy eating. "We ran quizzes on food budgeting. In one quiz, we had two different shopping baskets - smart price and brand names. Students had to guess the price of each. We ran a `taste the difference' type session comparing McVitie's Jaffa Cakes with a cheaper brand."
On Thursday, advice was given on leisure budgeting, with beauty tips, suggestions on ways to get fit, and leaflets listing money-saving websites.
Central to the week was the theme of earning money and saving it. Social sciences students Carly Aird, 17, and Eilidh Patton, 21, ran the Employ.com stall, handing out leaflets and assisting with registration on the website.
Carly explains its attraction: "It works both ways. Students can register their details and employers can contact them, or they can contact employers direct. There is also the option of putting up a short video of yourself.
Eilidh is also sold on the concept: "Handing out CVs can be a daunting prospect," she says. "This is a good way of selling yourself, and it is different from other sites. They will text you to keep you updated, rather than you having to check your email all the time."
Employment adviser Lisa Fox and learner engagement officer Alana Moss were on hand to speak to students and raise awareness of the services they provide.
"We have been running workshops, interacting with the students," explains Lisa. "We have been getting them to think about money, about it being tight, what they can do, and how they can get a part-time job rather than getting into debt."
"We want to make them more financially aware," adds Alana, "to think about how they spend their money, and to consider getting a part-time job. Each day there has been a different theme, with opportunities to win prizes. I don't think they are all running out to get part-time jobs straightaway, but it does get them thinking."
The week has also offered the business administration students the chance to open their vintage clothes shop, Fama. Senior lecturer Janet Gray runs the shop with the students as the practical part of the Skills for Work course.
"We have two electronic tills. One of the students works in Greggs and has been training the other students in how to use them," she says. "They rotate jobs so that they all get a turn at everything, so everyone has helped with the marketing, creating posters and designing leaflets."
With pound;370 made to date, the students have seen for themselves how successful enterprise can be, and the proceeds are due to go to Yorkhill Children's Foundation.
Nomsa Sedisa has enjoyed working in the Fama shop. "I have not worked in a shop before, so it has been a learning experience. I have loved it. Helping the customers has been the best part and I would love to work in a shop."
Carly Aird has had a job since she was 16, but still finds it hard to budget. "In some ways, it is harder to budget when you live at home. I used to always be running out of money and borrowing from my mum," she says.
"I used to just spend money when I got it, but I am learning to prioritise now. You can't rely on others. You need to be more aware of what you can afford, and be strict. It is nobody else's responsibility but your own."
Carly has been im-pressed with the Money Matters Week. "I think students need more information," she says. "Students on bursaries tend to spend it quickly. There are some good leaflets here, but more needs to be done and it needs to be bigger. It is also about time-management, and about growing up a bit."
Principal Linda McTavish thinks the week has been a success. She says: "It has been first-class, and has been used well by the students. Student finance is a number one issue for us.
"The economy is difficult, particularly for students, and the part-time job market is tight. We can support them with some of the pressures, but it is about long-term management and attitudes to money."
For someone not yet 18, Carly sums up the need for budgeting perfectly: "If you're old enough to spend it, you're old enough to take responsibility for it."