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Go Higher: London & The South East: What the students say

Ben Davis, 22, has just finished a four-year degree in German and European studies with Spanish at Surrey University. He's student union president

"As part of my degree I had two work placements in Germany, one for an insurance company in Bremen, and the second working for Freiburg town administration. Both were very useful. Freiburg's a beautiful city and I enjoyed the work. I was a kind of information officer helping tourists get about and local people with their problems. It really helped my German.

"In Bremen I spent four weeks going around with insurance sales people to people's homes, and crunching numbers when I got back to the office. Both placements paid me about pounds 300 a month for living expenses.

"The experience stands me in very good stead. I can go to an employer and say, 'Well, I have actually worked in two different organisations in the EU and I saw how they worked.' It's given me different skills from those who have had placements in England."

Izzy Perrin, 22 (right), has just completed a degree in stage management at Rose Bruford College, south London

"I could not have managed financially without the temporary jobs I had during my course. I was on a full grant. I took out maximum student loans each year and my parents topped that up with pounds 1,000 a year but I still had to earn. I worked in term-time as well as the vacations. I worked in a Shaftesbury Avenue theatre as an usher, taking theatregoers to their seats - for pounds 18 a night. It was also very useful as I made contacts with backstage staff.

"For the past year I have been working for Boots on the photographic counter as a sales assistant every Sunday - for pounds 36 a day.

"Both jobs helped my personal skills - I was dealing with customers - and my time management as I had to fit them in with my college work. Boots gave me skills in developing. But drama courses are hard work, so it got a bit hectic."