Parents' Guide: Student life comes at a cost - but the party's not over yet

No need to worry - there are ways to cope with the spiralling prices of a university education. By Yvette Essen
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The Independent Online
Parents often worry if their student offspring feel that they have to work to make ends meet. But this is now such an accepted part of university life that student unions and universities themselves employ students, and many also run "job shops" to help them find part-time work off-campus.

University rules on paid work during term-time vary, but most accept that many students will need to earn some extra money.

Joanna Howard is in her final year studying ancient history at University College London.

UCL is right in the centre of London close to the Senate House and inevitably one of the more expensive institutions at which to study.

It has the advantage, though, of being situated close to the University of London union, which offers students major entertainment and sporting facilities at a very central location.

Joanna has found living costs so high in the capital that she has had to take paid employment - like 60 per cent of students these days.

At least in London, jobs are plentiful and pay is more reasonable than in some areas of the country where the cost of living is lower.

"Living in London is definitely more expensive than anywhere else in the country," Joanna said.

"As a fresher I paid pounds 80 a week for catered halls but this year 'living out' cost about pounds 5,000. My parents can't afford to help me so I have a full grant (pounds 2,200), student loan (pounds 1,500), overdraft (pounds 750) and pounds 500 owing on my credit card."

In an "attempt to help avoid massive debt" Joanne worked 18 hours a week in her second year.

"The union work station was advertising for someone to serve food and wash dishes in the college canteen so I applied for that. Being on your feet the whole day is very exhausting but the pay is pounds 4.70 per hour, you meet other students, get free meals and regular work.

"However I wouldn't recommend doing that much work as you get little opportunity to study or socialise."

Although city costs are high there are more jobs available and the pay is better. "For instance when I returned to my home village of Formby during the summer holidays, I ended up packing tomatoes for pounds 3 per hour," Joanne said.

"In some respects I regret choosing to attend a college in London because it is expensive but living in such a lively environment certainly makes up for that."

Money-making tips for students

Vacation work. Students may try and find something relevant to their degree - it will be more interesting and do wonders for their CV

Students could take a part-time job during term time. Some 60 per cent of under-graduates do

Suggest they try and get sponsorship from a major company or scholarship from a professional institute like the Institute of Mechanical Engineers