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Student's money: easy come, easy go
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-23 00:05

For Xiao Yi, a senior at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, the annual commodity export fair in Guangzhou offers numerous money-earning opportunities.

A Spanish major, she will attend for the entire eight days as an interpreter just as she did last year. "Each day I could earn more than 500 yuan (US$60)," she said, an amount nearly equaling the officially set minimum monthly wage for a full-time Chinese worker.

Besides working at the fair, Xiao takes other part-time jobs, like tutoring a high school student, to bring in extra income.

In addition, she receives another sum of money worth 800 yuan (US$97) from her family each month.

"I am comfortably off on campus, as a result. I think of expensive brands of make-up like Christian Dior as my necessities" she said.

Xiao is not alone. Increasing numbers of fashion-driven student consumers in Guangzhou and neighboring cities are spending extravagantly. Some spend without refrain even though they are in debt.

These students know how to earn money, and what's more, how to spend money.

And over-consumption is becoming a big concern as big-spending students "invest" their money in both study-related items and travel, phones and entertainment.

Fashionable clothes and brand-name cosmetics claim the lion's share of consumer spending by some girls. Although large spenders account for only a fraction of students, their monthly budgets can be shockingly high.

Xiao, for instance, spends more than 1,000 yuan (US$120) every month buying accessories.

Mobile phones are considered indispensable by many, too.

A recent survey by the Shenzhen Commercial News, a commercial city like Guangzhou, indicates that the average monthly spending on mobile phones by a college students is 120 yuan (US$14) and more than 85 percent of students own portable phones.

According to the survey, more than 6 percent of university students in the city spend more than 1,000 yuan (US$120) every month and the average monthly spending is about 700 yuan (US$85).

The survey found that the primary source of money was family, and 70 percent of students' spending is covered by family money. Some students take tutoring jobs or other part-time work to cover the gap.

Education experts are concerned about this over-spending issue, which seems to be driven by fashion and peer pressure.

"It is normal that university students are driven by fashion thanks to the improvement of living conditions, but the expenses used in fashion and other sectors should be kept within limits," said Professor Zhang Mingqiang of South China Normal University.

"Students should bear in mind that their studies, not expenses, should be given priority," he added.

In addition, Zhang called for universities to attach importance to this over-spending phenomenon prevailing among students and strengthen efforts on education.

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