Going Higher: Set your sights high - and thrive!

Yes, living in London is expensive but there are legitimate ways to keep yourself in baked beans and lager. Vacation jobs are the most sensible option and there is a choice of temping, retail and hospitality work. By Yvette Essen
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The Independent Online
Parties, independence and a few hours in the library just about sums up university life, right? Well, no; if you plan to study in the south-east, travel, accommodation and socialising costs are bound to burst your bubble.

But you needn't rush to call UCAS, begging to change to the university up north that offers the cheapest pint. Nor will you have to prostitute yourself to fund a diet of baked beans and pasta.

So what is the best way to ensure you have enough money to last you until graduation day?

The ideal way to fund the year is to work during the holidays, leaving you time to concentrate on your studies. Whether you sign on at a temping agency as an envelope-stuffer or a data-inputter, every penny helps.

For many students, agencies are a good source of revenue - not only do they find jobs, and sort out tax and national insurance, but the wage is generally good (from pounds 4 an hour for photocopying, up to pounds 9 if you have good typing skills). However, some students find that work is not regular, and office and information technology experience may be essential.

But the computer illiterate need not despair; they may prefer to try their luck in retailing.

Harrods employs 2,000 additional staff for its two-week summer sale, and students snap up many of these jobs.

Other retail chains, such as Next, occasionally offer budding sales consultants the chance to stay on after the holidays. Pay is around pounds 4.50 an hour and staff discounts and bonuses may be offered to those who accept permanent contracts.

In fact, one in three students will continue to work part-time, since holiday work alone will not see them through the term. Although some universities recommend that students do no more than eight hours' paid word a week, most admit that casual work has its advantages. Apart from being a good way to enhance "character building" and "time management" (trying to fit in a pub crawl, stewarding for the union and a 3,000-word essay), it is a great way of meeting people. Union jobs are therefore the most popular option.

In addition, most universities provide opportunities for one-off, cash- in-hand employment, such as distributing college papers, and handing out flyers. Medical and psychology departments may need "guinea-pigs" for simple experiments and tests.

Men who wish to take things a step further and "sell their bodies to science" for a quick buck may choose the option of donating their sperm.

There are 32 sperm banks across the UK that are more than happy to recruit students. Although not all clinics pay, some contribute between pounds 15 and pounds 17.50 per visit for travel costs and general expenses and you can return as often as you wish, providing that your sperm has not already fathered more than nine children. However, you will need to undergo blood and sperm tests to check for genetic defects.

Successful candidates must abstain from sexual intercourse for three days prior to donating.

Other jobs open to students outside the protection of university include waiting at table, and jobs in bars, cafes and pubs. Surprisingly, local work in the south-east brings in far less than union work, with chambermaids and washer-uppers in Brighton earning as little as pounds 1.80 an hour. Universities in holiday resorts tend to have a lot of opportunities for summer work in bed and breakfasts and as tour guides.

Other institutes, such as West Herts College in Watford, are close to the city centre, so supermarket work is a possibility. Campus-style establishments, such as the University of Kent at Canterbury, see many students working as care assistants in residential homes - though these tend to be unsociable, "sleep-in" 12-hour shifts that require basic training in health and safety. Pay for such jobs starts at pounds 3 per hour.