The point at which students switch to chocolate bars to save funds is reached when they are £7,000 in debt, says a survey from a leading education charity.
The Sutton Trust has questioned some 2,700 young adults intending to apply for university places and found that 80% would initially expect to eat 'relatively normal' food, such as McDonald's and KFC take-aways until their debt reached £3,000, when they would move to a more frugal, but less communally acceptable, choice of beans-on-toast.
Only when their spiralling overdraft and loan bills reached £7,000 would they resort to subsisting on a couple of snacks a day, typically a Crunchie bar and bottle of 'full-fat' Pepsi with 'maybe a packet of own-label crisps'.
Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl says that many young people who miss out on university places would be 'sorely better fed' and lead 'happier, longer lives' than those undertaking degrees. 'We also found that youngsters from poorer backgrounds are naturally better suited to a student lifestyle, accepting a much worse diet, lower levels of cleanliness and the exceptionally high occupancy levels than the more well-off,' said Sir Peter.
A spokesman from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills says that the government may have to divert funds originally destined for the recently announced 'Free Schools' initiative, mooting a potential 'Free Pot Noodle' plan to bolster the nutritional intake of new students.