Students choose to buy textbooks over trainers

University students in 2012 are no longer the party animals their predecessors were reputed to be.

Research shows they would give top priority to paying their bills rather than going out for an evening's fun – and would be more likely to buy a key textbook than a new set of trainers.

The findings emerge by comparing the responses of 130 of today's students and those who have already graduated by Milkround, the online graduate recruitment agency. In all, 81 per cent of today's students said they would prioritise paying their bills before going out – compared with 73 per cent of graduates. In addition, 85 per cent said they would buy an important textbook for their course rather than trainers – compared with 76 per cent of graduates. Perhaps surprisingly as average debt has increased, those graduating this year were less concerned about leaving university with student debts than their predecessors from the previous year – only 48 per cent perceived debt as a worry compared with 60 per cent the previous year.

Abbie Baisden, of Milkround, said: "Money is tight for everyone at the moment – not least for students. The times of frivolous student spending are gone and have been replaced by budgeting and financial scrutiny."

The findings follow figures that showed this year's university applicants were aiming higher than their predecessors – with more state school pupils applying to Cambridge university as fees rise to up to £9,000 a year. This bucks the national trend of a 10 per cent drop in home applications.

Academics saw this as proof they were considering their university options more seriously.