Sam Guthrie gets paid to dress up as a cow and acts as the ANU student centre's promotional mascot.

Sam Guthrie gets paid to dress up as a cow and acts as the ANU student centre's promotional mascot. Photo: Melissa Adams

Donning a cow suit is not a bad way to earn a dollar, says ANU student Sam Guthrie.

Since 2010 the fourth year arts/law student has dressed up as the ANU Careers Centre's ''Careers Cow'' and handed out lollies and flyers to students, earning him some handy extra cash at the start of the university year.

''It's four to five days a week of two or three hours work, it's pretty good to earn a little bit of money to make ends meet,'' he said.

The Sunday Canberra Times reported recently that a number of local students were entering into arrangements with ''sugar daddies'', wealthy older men who paid the students' HECS, covered expenses and gave them gifts in exchange for sex. But University of Canberra student association president James Pace said many students found themselves short of money and worked in excess of 15 hours a week in addition to study to pay for rent and food.

''That's not even going out on weekends or going to the movies or anything like that, that's just to afford a roof over their head or to put food in their bellies,'' he said.

Mr Guthrie comes from Mandurama, nearly three hours' drive north of Canberra, and was awarded a regional scholarship for his university studies.

Last year he also supplemented his income with work as a senior resident at a university college, a role which saw him work as a mentor to younger students living on campus, and he said many struggled financially.

''I see a lot of difficulty with [student] residents who work a lot, quite long shifts, particularly I think the big one is retail and hospitality, and only just earn enough to pay their rent, to pay for the basics of their groceries,'' he said.

Kate Gemmell, manager of the ANU Careers Centre, said retail, hospitality and administration jobs both on and off campus were among the most popular employment fields for ANU students, and Canberra offered many opportunities for those looking for work.

''While we recognise that students are often time poor, we encourage our students to see part-time work as a source of skills development that might give an edge in applying for a graduate position,'' she said.

Ms Gemmell said 68 per cent of ANU's domestic students and 33 per cent of international students were working while studying in 2012.

Domestic students at the ANU worked an average of 11 hours per week and international students worked about four hours per week.