Research conducted by youth marketing company Student Village and Unisa’s department of marketing and retail management has found that for most South African students, food is the main expense.
Researchers found that, on average, a tertiary student spends R3 268 a month - or about R39 216 every year.
There are about 850 000 tertiary students in the country. This is the second annual student spending report.
Researchers interviewed 1 220 students aged between 18 and 24, using both online questionnaires and conducting in-person interviews at five of the country’s biggest institutions.
The research was conducted in February and March this year and in that period, students had already bought more than 330 000 cellphones.
In the same period, 35 000 students had either bought cars or had cars bought for them. Other big expenses were travel and textbooks.
But lining their stomachs is by far students’ biggest priority. Researchers found that on average, students spend R712 each month on food, and about R500 on rent.
Women students spend 5% more on food and general groceries than their male counterparts.
Men, though, spent a staggering 200% more on contraceptives and 180% more on alcohol than female students.
The researchers, whose brief included trying to work out how important brands are to South African students, found that a range of factors influenced students in their spending habits.
Brands came out tops: the desire to own established brands was very important to the students surveyed. Friends, advertising and parents were also influential, the researchers found.
And the biggest source of income for South Africa’s students? Their parents.
Of those surveyed, 77% relied on Mum and Dad for their monthly allowance, while others worked part-time or dipped into bursary funding to pay their way.