The realities of balancing employment with your studies

 

When studying for an undergraduate degree costing £27,000 in fees alone, while constantly being reminded that this qualification won’t be enough on its own to get you a graduate job, part-time work can feel like an obligatory sideline for university students. But do the rigours of retail and other part-time employment mix with studying for a degree?

A 2013 study by the NUS and Endsleigh Insurance found that 57% of students hold down a part-time job whilst at university, with nine out of 10 of that number working as many as 20 hours per week. The majority of universities recommend that students only take on a maximum of between 10 and 15 hours employment per week during the academic term.

Meaghan Dixon, a former English Literature and Film Studies student at Kingston University, worked both in a supermarket and a local convenience store while studying, in total working an average of 15-20 hours per week.

She said: “If I didn't work both jobs I couldn't have afforded to live, basically. Job one paid for food and job two paid for me to get to job one! My student loan just about covered my flat. In terms of student life, there wasn't really one when I was working so much. If I wasn't working I was doing uni work or recovering from shifts.”

Meaghan believes that her academic performance suffered as a result of her employment outside of university. She added: “I think my grades would have been better if I hadn't worked, but then I couldn't have been at uni without my jobs.”

Nathan Armes, a third year Psychology student at the University of Hertfordshire, works as a cloakroom attendant at his Student Union and hasn’t encountered any difficulties in balancing this job with his studies.

He said: “Financially, it's allowed me to live more comfortably and… to socialise without having to worry so much about how much I've spent. It's also proved a great way of meeting people and making new friends.”

Nathan also commented that employment with the union meant more flexible hours and the option to work reduced hours during busier study periods like exam season.

Oxford University does not allow students to undertake part-time work during term time except under “exceptional circumstances”. Second year History undergraduate at Oxford, Thomas Grand, believes this has a positive impact on students.

He said: “As long as the uni can make sure everyone can afford it, it removes a source of constraint that can overshadow your time at uni. It frees you up to fully engage with your degree but also the uni experience as a whole, and avoid falling into the trap of taking more and more hours only to fall behind on work and your social life.”

Thomas also points out that Oxford’s shorter eight-week terms provide greater opportunity to work during the holidays.

Whether it is employment outside term time or an ongoing part-time job, the economic reality for most students is that some additional income is essential.  But can this work compliment academic study?

NUS research into employment services for university and college students found that, “The overwhelming consensus [amongst job shops] was that part-time work brought considerable positive benefits provided there was a work/study balance.” The University of Ulster actively encourages students to pursue various work experience opportunities alongside their studies, even allowing students to gain extra credit for working in a part-time job.

Perhaps, if degree study aims ultimately to equip undergraduates for employment, more students could benefit from having access to this kind of support.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Science Technician

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...

English and Media Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...

Graduate BI Consultant (Business Intelligence) - London

£24000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate BI Consultant (B...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam