He lives in private accommodation with five other students sharing food costs and other bills (pounds 20-pounds 30pw). Academic costs include up to pounds 60 each for those books so essential to the course that library stocks are constantly out on loan. He makes considerable use of photocopying - annoyingly 6p per sheet on campus against 4p in town. The library lands him with pounds 10 fines by recalling books he has on loan. Computer facilities on campus are overstretched, so an investment of pounds 200 on a cheap word processor was vital for his course work.
His social life has gradually reduced as his course has progressed - weekly beer costs on average only pounds 5 a week. He has a bank overdraft facility of pounds 1900, though his actual overdraft is now pounds 2200; three years' loans - pounds 4500; credit card debts of pounds 350 and pounds 500 owed to individuals. He will probably end his course around pounds 8000 in debt.
Going after jobs
In his first year Alex applied through the local job centre for a night porter's job in town. His hours were Friday and Saturday nights from 11pm to 8am at pounds 3.50 per hour. He changed this after a year and now holds down bar jobs for around pounds 4 an hour for 20-25 hours per week. With bar work he can negotiate for duty rotas which are more consistent with his lectures, seminars, essays and revision. He finds it easier to write essays when fresh before work and to read and revise after a work session.
His work schedule has, however, prevented him from joining the university soccer team and the film society though - both interests of his.
Working throughout one's university years, as Alex has done is now more or less the norm. Emma Smith manages the University of Brighton's student employment workshop: "Our employment workshop exists to help students find the type of work which will be consistent with the demands of their course. We recommend as a guideline that no student should work more than 12 hours per week. Where students feel financially compelled to try excessive hours we can call upon welfare facilities, debt counselling, or financial help from the access fund."
For the last three years the workshop has acted as a job centre for Brighton students wanting part-time work. Typically it deals with up to 2,000 vacancies each year and has around 1,000 students using its service. Vacancies available for students will reflect the employment patterns of the university's area. For example, Brighton has students working, like Alex Klaar, in bars and hotels. There are loads of tourist season summer vacation jobs. Emma Smith regrets that she has not yet been able to fill a vacancy for a stilt walker to patrol Brighton pier! Other jobs range from office work to pizza delivery, website design to work at Gatwick airport. The university itself opens up many of its own suitable part-time jobs around campus to students.
Many students have marketable qualifications such as life saving, sports coaching, computer and IT skills which help them find work. Others make the most of the need to work by finding practical work in areas which complement their course: office work for business studies students, work in hospitals or caring for students on health-related courses. Brighton is currently working on a "skills passport" to assist students in recognising the skills they are acquiring at work, many of which will be useful for their CVs after graduation.
Student employment centres also attempt some form of vacancy quality control. Southampton University's "Openings" will not accept vacancies from employers who pay less than pounds 3.70 per hour or who pay on commission only. Vacancies have to meet equal opportunities criteria and employers are reminded of their obligations with regard to health and safety, national insurance and tax, and proper employee insurance cover.
Sally Jastrzebski, 20
is in her second year of a BA in English literature at Lancaster University. She works as a receptionist for the student union help desk, earning pounds 3.75 an hour.
"I found this job through the student union job shop and now work 11 hours a week in total, dealing with student queries and general secretarial administration. My work is usually at set times, although I can juggle my hours if I need to. I don't necessarily have to work, but it's useful to have the extra money, as well as the experience and a source of good references. I get a grant, which only really covers accommodation, and I've got a student loan which just about covers everything else. But I like to socialise, and earning my own money gives me a sense of independence. Combining a job with academic work hasn't been a problem. It's made me a better time manager and much more self-motivated. Now, when I set myself deadlines, I have to stick to them. I prefer to work through term-time, rather than the holidays, because I have cash in hand now, when I need it. It also means I can budget more effectively and therefore I don't run out at the end of term like my friends. The only downside to my job is that, unlike everyone else, I have to get up early when I've been out the night before."
Rebecca Finnimore, 19
Works as an assistant at her student union job-shop, earning pounds 3.94 an hour. She is in her second year of a BA in French and Spanish at Newcastle University.
"I've worked at the job shop for a year now and currently combine 10- 15 hours of work with 12-14 hours of lectures a week. It's a very convenient job for me because it's on campus and the hours can be flexible. The best things about working are the money and the valuable transferable skills which I am enquiring. My computer literacy has improved a lot since I started my job, and I feel I am getting good experience which will prepare me for the world of work. Talking to students and employers has given me insight into the range of jobs that are available for students - everything from bar work to advertising and market research - which pays very well! I have also picked up valuable tips on CV presentation through my job which will be useful for me after I graduate.
"Working during term-time has meant that I have had to modify my study habits. Normally I would study in the day, but because I work at lunch- time I have to discipline myself to do it later in the evening. When my friends are going off to study I'm usually going to work, and sometimes when I'm working they're going out, which can be a bit of a downside.
"A lot of my friends work during term because they have to, not out of choice. I work primarily for the money and probably spend it equally on beer and subsistence! I get paid cash in hand, which is a bit lethal, but realistically I just wouldn't survive at the moment if I wasn't working."
Damian Alltree, 24
is in the second year of a BSc in Sport Studies at Staffordshire University. During the holidays he coaches soccer at summer camps in the USA. He earns $1400 (pounds 875) for an eight-week session.
"I've always been interested in sport and started American summer camp coaching before I started university, three years ago. Each summer I go out to Long Island, near New York and teach soccer skills at residential, community and day camps run by an organisation called Noga. It's a fantastic opportunity to sample a different culture, and it looks good on the CV. I'm responsible for a group of 10-15 children, and supervise practices and matches, which is good fun but exhausting. My degree course is geared towards teaching, rather than coaching, but there are a lot of positive links between my job and my academic work. I can draw things from my coaching experience and apply them in seminars and assignments.
"Money isn't really a factor in my summer work as the coaches only really get paid enough to keep them in clean clothes! The only real disadvantage to coaching is that I don't get the holidays to work and pay off my overdraft like everyone else. I do painting and decorating work between the end of term and going out to America which helps, but basically I have to watch my money a bit more carefully. It's worth it though and I would recommend vocational work to anyone - you get so much out of it."Reuse content