The National Union of Students (NUS) recently launched a campaign for the removal and ban of all pay-day loan advertising on college and university campuses. Pay-day lenders, sometimes referred to as loan sharks, are companies that lend money to people at a very high interest rate. This can result in a lengthy cost of repayment over time.
The NUS campaign, which can be found in the welfare and student rights section on the NUS website, intends to inform students about the dangers of pay-day loan advertising as well as encourages individuals to sign an online petition. The petition is to act as concrete evidence for universities and colleges that students want pay-day loan advertising banned from their institutions.
Since NUS introduced the campaign, several universities have joined the pledge and committed to never allowing pay-day loan advertisements on their premises, on their website or in any of their publications. These institutions are Keele University, Leeds Metropolitan University, Northumbria University, the University of Sheffield, Swansea University, the University of East London, the University of Northampton and Walsall College.
According to NUS, pay-day loan advertising usually targets vulnerable groups such as students, most of whom are already indebted. NUS’ own research indicates that as much as ten per cent of students in vulnerable groups have acquired high risk debt and pay-day loans are responsible for generating some of this debt.
To accompany the campaign on the NUS website, NUS have produced an information graphic, based on their research and the research of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which further emphasises the dangers of pay-day loan advertising. On the infographic, NUS notes that on 6th March 2013, the Office of Fair Trading found that there are deep-rooted problems in the pay-day loan sector.
According to OFT, a number of the companies have therefore been told to ‘clean up their act’ or face having their license revoked. The OFT also claim that three per cent of university or college students have taken on high-risk debt, a percentage which doubles for those aged 21 and over. Doubling of student accommodation prices and little or no financial support from parents are some of the reasons why students may see high-risk loans as their only option.
The University of Nottingham’s (UON’s) Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Mike Dore, was contacted regarding the NUS campaign. He noted that UON are “fully in support of the NUS campaign” and acknowledged that pay-day lenders pose a huge problem for students. He also confirmed that UON does not allow pay-day lenders to advertise at Students’ Union events. However, in spite of restrictions, UON is not on the NUS’ list of institutions which do not allow any form of pay-day loan advertising on their campuses.
Nevertheless, UON’s own research has found that pay-day loan debt is actually quite low at Nottingham compared to other bigger debt problems such as overdrafts or student loans. Overdrafts and student loans accounted for 40.1% and 59.7% of student debt, respectively, as opposed to 1.2% for pay-day loans.
Image: Gregory F. Maxwell