A job to make ends meet: Students on shrinking grants are waiting at tables when they should be reading Wittgenstein. Stephen Pritchard reports
Thursday 16 June 1994
Growing fears about the impact this has on academic standards are recognised by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP), which will include questions on term-time work in a survey of student income and expenditure this summer. Lecturers are having to accept that part-time work is a fact of student life, and many universities are seeking ways to limit its impact on academic performance.
'We are concerned about how much term-time working is going on,' says Dr Kenneth Edwards, chairman of the CVCP. 'I suspect it is quite considerable, and growing. While a small amount of work may not be harmful, beyond a certain limit it might be. There is no collective view that it's wrong for students to work during term, but in some cases it has a deleterious effect on studies.'
An insight into the scale of the problem comes from research commissioned last year by Oxford Brookes University. It suggested that term-time employment is now the norm rather than the exception. According to Dr Roger Lindsay, one of the report's authors, as many as 57 per cent of second- and higher-year students at the university may be working on a regular basis. The report estimates that as many as 250 students annually graduate with degrees a class lower than that they would have gained had they not worked.
'The number of students failing modules was three times greater among those who worked,' Dr Lindsay says. 'The cost of financing those modules, over the university as a whole, could be close to pounds 1m. Students suffer because academic performance is retarded; institutions suffer because of the knock-on costs. The assumption by government that reducing resources for students has no implications for institutions is nave. It has very real costs to individuals, the community and institutions.'
The report recommends easing the difficulties, for example with flexible timetabling so that fewer classes are missed because of work. Another approach is for institutions to offer vacancies of their own to students.
At Cardiff University, a student employment agency, Unistaff, has been operating for three years. Each year, about 500 students are found work. The college believes that by offering jobs on campus, with standardised pay and conditions and a 15-hour upper limit on the time worked, the disadvantages can be minimised.
'We recognised that a significant number of students are working anyway in casual employment throughout Cardiff,' says Alastair McDougall, personnel director. 'By offering something controllable ourselves, we are able to head off some of the problems.'
The types of jobs offered include catering, clerical and cleaning, as well as work in the library or in offices. In time, Unistaff also hopes to provide work that enhances the CV as well as reducing overdrafts.
'By far the majority of work we can give is basic, casual work,' says Mr McDougall. 'The challenge is to try to use students in jobs more suitable to people of their ability.'
Last week, Sheffield University opened a pilot student employment agency called Tempus. The director of the careers advisory service, Dr Bernard Kingston, had seen similar schemes operating abroad, especially in Australia and the United States. But the venture was given a head start by the local Employment Service, which approached him to provide students for temporary vacancies they were unable to fill from their own registers. So far, 200 students have found work this way, and Tempus will continue to advertise JobCentre openings alongside other jobs.
Tempus will concentrate on work outside the university. Dr Kingston's initial research found potential demand from shopping complexes and hotels in the city, while vacancies channelled through the Employment Service have ranged from gardening to security. As at Cardiff, Tempus will have a 15-hour weekly working limit. 'There is anxiety about detracting from studies,' acknowledges Dr Kingston, 'but there are more problems with anxiety from debt. If we can relieve that in a controlled way, it is to the students' advantage.'
While employment bureaux can be a lifeline for some students, it is unrealistic to expect them to solve the wider problem of student hardship. Kirstie Shannon, who as academic and welfare secretary of Sheffield University's student union is on the Tempus steering group, agrees. 'It does not make up for a lack of funding. A student on a full grant gets less than someone on income support. It is a fact of life that students are looking for work. If they have no money they can do worse because of worry than because of working. If students are working very long hours, it will affect their courses, but equally, so will hardship.'
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response from Ellen DeGeneres
Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
North Korean defector flees to Finland 'with evidence of chemical testing on humans'
Isis schoolgirl Amira Abase who fled London to join terrorists in Syria mocks victims of Tunisia massacre
Father faces deportation to Thailand after 27 years in Britain for two 'stupid crimes'
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Black teen in critical condition after store employee 'shoots him for stealing 79-cent pack of cookies'
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To contribute to the day-to-da...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It is also essential that you p...
£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...
£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...