A Swansea University student said he had to sell drugs in order to pay for his degree

With no family support, Tyler felt crime was his only option

A former Swansea University student has said he had to sell drugs so he could afford his degree.

Tyler, 24 years old,  told the BBC he had been working multiple jobs whilst studying but said he still struggled to make ends meet without support from his family.

Both of Tyler’s parents are in prison and after the summer of his first year at university, his relationship with his grandparents turned sour. He said after this breakdown in their relationship, he found it difficult to manage his time and finances as he was juggling his university course and his job whilst trying to cope with rent and food costs.

He told the BBC that after his relationship broke down with his grandparents, he applied for support as he was now an “independent student”. He said: “I did get hardship funds, which did help a lot. But I think at 18, 19, 20 years old, a grand without much in the way of financial planning is only good in the short term.”

He also said that whilst Swansea University offered him support through financial management sessions, Tyler found himself unable to spare any time in between studies and the many jobs he had to take in order to survive at university. This was all made worse by the lack of a guarantor for his student accommodation, as Tyler has to pay double the deposit of other students, which took away £800 from him at the beginning of each academic year.

In his third year at the university, Tyler had to repay a bank loan, which he had taken out after his family cut him off. He knew he needed the money quickly and that the most efficient way to pay back the “£800 a week” was by selling drugs.

Tyler explained that he did not think of the impact of what he was doing as he was selling marijuana and not Class A drugs. He just saw what he was doing as a temporary means to an end.

With both parents incarcerated, Tyler admitted that he was ready to face the consequences, as the odds weren’t in his favour anyway as statistically if someone is the child of a person in prison, then they are more likely to be locked up too.

When speaking about prison, he said: “The odds weren’t in my favour. If you look at the statistics, every statistic says I should be dead or in prison or on the streets.

“I think that a lot of children of people who go to prison go to prison themselves because there’s no infrastructure when they need it.

“I didn’t have a mum, a dad, an uncle, anyone when I was 18.”

Tyler has now graduated with a degree and is happy in a job within the technology sector, calling his new life “blissful”. He is also aware that his time selling drugs could have ended differently, saying: “I came out the other side. Most people either stay selling and get themselves in prison or they become like coke addicts and get themselves into debt. I was neither.”

A Swansea University spokesperson has emphasised that they are offering support in the way of tailored advice, opportunities and information for students who find themselves in a hard situation, such as estrangement from their parents.

The university also said that students struggling financially can access the Estranged Student’s Bursary, hardship funds and budgeting sessions.

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