Glut of lifeguards ahead as debt-ridden students join the queue for holiday jobs

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The Independent Online

Britain's debt-ridden undergraduates will net almost £1bn from vacation jobs this summer, a study published today estimates.

Britain's debt-ridden undergraduates will net almost £1bn from vacation jobs this summer, a study published today estimates.

Four out of five students will spend the summer break working, the survey of slightly more than 2,000 first and second-year undergraduates has revealed. The survey adds to the growing evidence of indebtedness among today's undergraduates, with the average student likely to be about £12,000 in the red after three years at university.

Of the respondents, 23 per cent said they would work in a bar or restaurant, while 16 per cent opted for shop work, the two most popular categories. And if the intentions of the interview sample are an accurate national representation, there will be 1,000 students looking for work as lifeguards and 2,000 as tour guides. Schools and summer schools will receive applications from another 5,500 full or part-time employees

While most students (about 75 per cent) planned to use their earnings towards term-time living costs, many also said vacation work would look good on their CVs when looking for a job after graduating.

More than a third also said they appreciated the longer term importance of vacation jobs in providing them with work experience.

Andrea Aitken-Page, the head of student banking at the Royal Bank of Scotland, which conducted the survey, said: "Today's students face a whole range of financial challenges.

"It is encouraging to see ... that undergraduates are taking the initiative in tackling these hurdles: not only do they appreciate the value of summer work in offsetting living costs, but they also show long-term foresight about the importance of using it as work experience."

The survey revealed the average student would earn £1,568 over the summer vacation.

But not all will be seeking paid work during their time off. The survey suggested that 9,500 students would opt for unpaid work experience.

Forty-six per cent of respondents said they expected to go travelling at some time during the vacation. Seventeen per cent said they intended to spend much of their time studying.

Student leaders claim the amount of paid work undertaken by undergraduates has risen since the introduction of tuition fees six years ago. They warn it is likely to rise again when universities are allowed to charge top-up fees of up to £3,000 a year in September 2006.

The legislation allowing universities to charge received the Royal Assent last week.