1. Organise club nights
With many students out on the tiles two or three times a week there’s money to be made in entertaining them. Birmingham University graduate Gary Linton set up his own promotions company with a couple of friends in the holidays before his final year. “We established a brand, set up a website, scouted out suitable venues, designed flyers and hired bands.” As the money began to pour in – at its peak, the company was pulling in profits of between £800 and £1000 each week – they were able to employ a team to hand out flyers and a manager to oversee them. “It was a fantastic experience and I learned a lot about running a business. But it did require a good deal of work”.
Trading in that nasty jumper your grandmother bought you for Christmas or the TV set that’s been collecting dust in the attic for years can help boost the coffers. “Pretty much anything will sell”, says Aaron Selman, a student at Newcastle University. “But it is time-consuming listing each item individually”. A more cost-effective method, Aaron explains, is to buy in bulk (in his case, clothes shipped over from the US and scooters bought off a friend’s dad) and sell them on at a mark-up. “All you have to do is field queries from your customers and go to the post office to send the items off. If you put the effort in, I’d say it’s possible to make up to £15,000 a year”.
3. Online poker (undertaken at your own risk)
For some, the possibility – however remote – of wiping out thousands of pounds of debt in one bleary-eyed evening of glory is too much to resist. Of course, if you’re skilled and extremely lucky, it can happen. One especially gold-fingered student player was able to buy himself an Audi TT on the back of his poker earnings. The flipside can be grim, however. One former undergrad at Manchester University, who preferred to remain anonymous, blew his student loan cheque in a single day.
Granted it’s not quite as glamorous or potentially money-spinning, but filling out online surveys provides a risk-free way of topping up your bank balance. Work is easy to come by, too, with thousands of research groups offering work when and however much you want it. Adam Levine, a student at Bristol University, makes between 50p and £2 for each survey he completes for market research firm YouGov. “It’s a good idea to set up a separate email account just for the surveys. Mine has been clogged up a lot – my personal details have been passed around quite a bit.”
Teaching the subject you love to one or two students is rewarding work. And in more than one sense: even an inexperienced tutor can charge around £20 an hour. Securing clients isn’t always easy, however. You’ll need to post adverts in newsagents’ windows, library notice-boards and Internet sites (www.anysubject.com is recommended). Once you have a student or two, make sure you impress; further work often stems from recommendations to family and friends. There’s money to be made away from academic subjects, too. Birmingham University student David Goldschmidt receives £11 an hour for coaching Eton fives at a local independent school. “It pays well and I love doing it.”
6. Postgraduate research projects
Faculty notice boards, email inboxes, sometimes toilet cubicles, are dotted with cash offers from PhD students in exchange for a bit of help with their doctoral theses. Jonathan Keane became a handy ally to the postgraduate community during his degree at Cambridge University. “It seemed like an easy source of revenue. The questionnaires generally took about an hour to complete and we were paid around £10. I quite enjoyed it, too, even if I didn’t always really understand what the projects were about.”
7. Clinical tests and sperm donations
Helping test new medicines has long been an attractive option for students. It’s easy to see why. Sit back, take a few drugs and collect a cool £100 for a hard day’s work (which is what companies like trials4us.co.uk offer). Unfortunately, it’s not always quite as simple as that. Two years ago, six British men suffered serious organ failure after testing a drug designed to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, leukaemia and multiple sclerosis. Donating sperm, meanwhile, does not carry the same risks. One student at Birmingham University described how he was given a condom and a top-shelf magazine before being sent into a cubicle. “A few minutes later I was given £40.”
8. Mystery shopping
The job title might sound alluring; the description is rather less so. Mystery shopping involves being paid by agencies like Mystery Shopper or Retail Maxim to buy a sandwich in Pret a Manger or a dress in Top Shop, and report back with comments on the retailer’s customer service. For Katherine Faulkner, it provided a regular stream of income during her time at Cambridge University. “It wasn’t exactly the stuff of dreams but I wasn’t tied down to specific hours and I was paid £10 for each restaurant, shop etc.” The job also provided the odd moment of comedy. “On one occasion I was given a brief to go into a Wetherspoon’s pub by myself and order a mojito and a pint of real ale. I think they might have rumbled me.”
9. Brand promotions
Young and attractive students – especially girls – are always wanted to help showcase the latest games console, promote an upcoming gig or hand out a new chocolate bar on the streets. Companies like The Lounge Group offer you £10 an hour to do so and find you work in your local area. York University student Lucy Blake has helped promote brands including T-Mobile, The Times Career Supplement and McArthur Glen. “One job involved standing outside the T-Mobile shop in Sheffield wearing a pink sequinned leotard, fishnet tights, silver sparkly shoes, a Top Hat and a feather boa to promote a new tariff. Posing semi-nude on the streets of Sheffield created a little stir.”
10. Bar work
Clearly there are plenty of ways these days to generate a bit of cash without putting in too much hard graft. But there is still a lot to be said for pursuing more traditional sources of income. William Dam Villena worked for the student union bar during his time at Exeter University, putting in about 12 hours a week and taking home roughly £70. It provided a lot more than just money, though. “I had really flexible hours and it was a great way to meet people.”