Going Higher: In a job - as long as you're at a bigger town, that is

More universities are assisting students in finding much-needed part-time work by establishing job centres on campus. But the likelihood of gaining employment and a decent rate of pay depends on where you live, writes Diana Appleyard

The larger Midlands cities like Birmingham, Nottingham, Stoke, Leicester and Derby have a plethora of employment opportunities for students, primarily in the many supermarkets, bars, restaurants and factories. Most universities now recognise that students need to work not only to top up their grants and pay off student loans but even to fund basic living costs, and so have made arrangements on campus for job advertisements.

Perhaps one of the best organised is the University of Wolverhampton, which was one of the first in the country to pioneer an employment bureau which matches jobs to students to fit around timetables and as often as possible to match an aspect of a student's career aspirations. Even better, the service is free, and there are hundreds of jobs on offer in the city .

At the University of Birmingham, the guild has a dedicated centre in which local companies advertise jobs. Many other firms offer promotions to students, giving away leaflets and so on at events and promotional work at the big concert venues like the National Indoor Arena. Work in pubs, clubs and restaurants is plentiful. The guild itself employs more than 500 students in bar, security and administration work, paying around pounds 3.60 per hour until midnight and pounds 4 after midnight.

Part-time work was actively discouraged by the university until about four years ago. Now most students work an average of around 16 hours per week and pay in the city ranges between pounds 3 an hour to the best paid at about pounds 6.

Nottingham Trent University runs its own employment store and the University of Nottingham has an employment agency on campus called The Nucleus. This ensures that employers offer the minimum wage. The agency has several hundred employers on its books.

Over in Leicester, De Montfort is in the process of setting up a job shop on the university site. It is aimed to have it up and running by September. The students' union has a jobs board which advertises local vacancies, and students do bar work, act as stewards or in security within the university. There are also some relatively well-paid packing and factory work.

At the University of Leicester there is a student employment centre, run by the students' union. One of the most popular employers is Walkers Crisps, which offers good rates of pay.

The high number of pubs in Loughborough - more than 30 - means there are good job opportunities for hard-up students. There are also a lot of the usual types of jobs, such as bar work and waiting, on campus. The town basically relies on the students for its part-time workforce and jobs are easy to find.

The University of Derby has its own employment bureau, offering hundreds of jobs. Local employers contact the university or students find work through the local job centre. With so many factories and large firms in the city, jobs are easy to get.

The students' union at Keele University recently conducted a survey of how many students did part-time work - and found that over 58 per cent now combine work with their studies. The union offers hundreds of jobs on campus, and students also find work in Newcastle-under-Lyme or Stoke. Pay, however, is not the highest in the region.

At Staffordshire University there is a jobs board run by the students' advice centre. The students' union has about 200 members of casual staff drawn from the university. The union says that undergraduates now are far more likely to look for work in their first year rather than waiting until they become financially desperate in their third year.

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