A survey has revealed how students are struggling with their finances / Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Almost 30 per cent have thought of quitting university because they worry about their finances

As many as 40 per cent of students have gone without food because they are concerned about their finances, a stark new survey has revealed.

The time spent at university is often sold as the best years of a young person’s life, but almost 30 per cent of students have considered dropping out of education because they cannot afford living costs, with 60 per cent saying they do not feel financially secure.

In a survey of almost 1000 students for StudentMoneySaver.co.uk, almost three quarters received a Government maintenance loan, but only a quarter said it was enough to live on.

An anonymous second year student told the website: "There have been times when I have had little to eat within a week. Mainly because I was too embarrassed and didn't know where to go about it all.

"But when I found out that the university are able to help with that, they were able to help with food vouchers so I didn't go hungry."

The findings highlighted how students are struggling to fund their educations, with 33 per cent resorting to selling their possessions to make basic payments for rent, bills and food shopping, while almost 30 per cent say that they cannot afford to heat their homes when it’s cold.

A further fifth said they were forced to “do other desperate things” for money, while a worrying 3.6 per cent said they’d done something illegal.

And of the 7 per cent of students who resorted to taking out a payday loan, 40 per cent regretted it, with one telling the website they were trapped in a "vicious circle that I'll never be able to escape from."

The study also dispelled the myth that students are reliant on their parents, as 50 per cent of students relied on their families, while 46.4 per cent didn't  and the remained preferred not to say.

Last month, a separate study showed that essentials including technology, textbooks, and printer credit were costing students an additional £1,800 over three years.

Charlotte Burns, Editor, Student Money Saver, said: “Hearing that students are poor, wouldn't surprise anyone. However, what this survey has shown us, is that the level of poverty is much worse than initially thought.

"Students are going without food and heating, as well as becoming desperate and selling possessions, taking out payday loans and seriously considering dropping out to get by.

"The fact that there are students are living in serious poverty is completely unacceptable. Many parents have been completely left in the dark about this, and would be horrified to find how their children are living," she added.