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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Marketing & Social Media Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Marketing Graduate or...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£20 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer is nee...

SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future