Students from wealthier backgrounds do not receive enough financial support from their parents, while those from low-income families enjoy higher contributions than the Government recommends.
The National Student Money Survey found that those attending university from households with an annual income of £25,000 received £54 a month from their parents.
Unlike higher earners, these families are not typically expected to contribute anything to the cost of their children’s education.
The average student from a family with a household income of £60,000 received £193 a month from their parents, significantly below the £353 they are expected to under the student financing system.
Campaigners said it was unclear how much parents should be contributing towards the cost of their education and argued that the maintenance loan – up to £8,430 a year for those studying outside London – was not high enough to meet the cost of living.
Undergraduates also disliked the fact that these loans are tied to the earnings of their parents.
Despite receiving financial support from their family, a third of students said the cash they were given was not enough to fund their lifestyle and education costs. Many took on part time work to boost their income, but others turned to gambling, sex work and medical trials in an attempt to support themselves during study, the report found.
Jake Butler, of campaign group Save the Student, said: “The Government needs to put an end to this confusion by being more explicit about parental contributions or increase the maintenance loan amount so that it is actually in line with real living costs.”