How do university students of today differ from those of the past?

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What do students value the most these days?

As another year of university gets underway, thousands of students head to back to college with their valuable possessions and gadgets by their sides. But what sorts of items do students value the most today? Admiral Home Insurance surveyed current students to find out what students will be bringing with them, what they value the most and how they differ from what their parents brought to uni.

How much are students bringing to uni?

The average total value of property that students take away with them to university is now £1,896 – with tech and gadgets accounting for more than a third of this total. But for almost one in four students, that amount is actually more than £3,000.

When Admiral Home asked the parents of students, the answers were quite different. For students of the 1980s the average was £887, which accounting for inflation is roughly the same value as today. But the difference lies in what students brought to uni back then compared to what students bring to today. In fact, technology only accounted for £103 of the £887 – meaning that while today’s students have property worth more than two times than that of students in 80s, their tech and gadgets are worth more than six times as much.

What are the new ‘must haves’ for uni students of today?

So, just how do students of today differ from students from the 80s, 90s and 00s? Not surprisingly, when asked “What was your most treasured item at university?” 70% of current students answered ‘laptop,’ while in stark contrast to that, students of the 80s indicated ‘Books’ and ‘Stereo.’

Admiral’s research shows that there have been some major changes in what students own and bring to uni. Nearly a third of students of the 80s owned a bike, while for today’s students it’s only 18%. In the years when reality TV dominated, 61% of 00s students owned a TV, but today only 34% have one.

When it comes to music, students of the 90s valued it more than any other decade, with 57% indicating they owned a stereo and 81% saying they owned CDs and cassettes. In contrast, only 27% of today’s students own CDs and an even smaller 15% have something they can play them on.

The times are changing

What’s caused this shift in what students consider important to them? One major influence would be the rise in accessible technology. Noel Summerfield, head of home insurance for Admiral explains, “When I was at uni, a stereo and a large collection of CDs were essential. Students today don’t need CDs to listen to music; they can just stream it. They are also watching a lot less TV and getting their entertainment online.”

Not surprisingly, the biggest change between the times has been technology – particularly in the growth of mobile phone ownership. While in the 80s, only 2% of students had a mobile phone, up to only 14% by the 90s. Within one more decade, however, it was 72% and today now 80% of students own a mobile phone.

Noel Summerfield said, “It’s interesting to see how the priorities of students have changed during the last four decades. Back before the advent of laptops and tablets, students valued their books much more, but they also treasured their stereos and music collections.”

How can students protect their valuables?

Unfortunately, the increase of high valued items means students are now more than ever targets for criminals. In fact, Admiral found that one in seven students have had something stolen from their accommodation. Furthermore, even more students indicated that they have had something they value damaged while at uni.

Despite this, less than one in three students even bother with contents insurance.

But what’s caused the increase in crime among uni students? Noel Summerfield explains, “The growth of portable tech such as phones and tablets mean that criminals can break into a shared student house and walk away with a lot of property. It might seem like a boring subject during the excitement of a new term, but it’s really worth students considering contents insurance. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune and they’d be grateful for it if their treasured laptop or phone was taken.”

Admiral Home Insurance now offers Tenants Insurance which provides cover for students or anyone else who rents a room in a shared house or flat. It covers for theft of their personal property should the worst or the unexpected happen.

Weirdest items students kept at uni

It’s no secret that students are notorious for collecting weird and quirky items in their accommodations, so Admiral asked them to list out the strangest ones they’ve ever had. Check out some of the unusual things student kept:

  • A deactivated mortar bomb
  • A human sized teddy bear
  • A five kilo tub of Hellman’s Mayonnaise
  • Bagpipes
  • Inflatable furniture
  • An entire bus stop and bench
  • A cardboard cut out of Burt Reynolds

Have more questions about how Admiral’s Tenants Insurance can protect your valuables? Find out more with our helpful guide.

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