Despite university being typically associated with constant partying and drinking, there is no doubt it is a challenging experience. It comes with many advantages, be it academic, new independence, liberation and opportunities. Although it is hard to ignore the many challenges; academic wise there are essay deadlines, exams and seminar work. But budgeting can also prove a challenge – paying rent, buying your own food, buying any necessities and paying for social events. Part time work can be a great chance to gain some experience, meet people outside university and have a bit of spare cash, but for many students they are forced to work due to the extensive financial burden of university life.
The new lease of independence can cause trouble for some students, having to manage their own money and looking after themselves without mum and dad for the first time, in turn many students then take on jobs at whilst studying. A survey conducted by NUS Services found of 2,128 students that nearly half (45%) have a part-time job, with 13% managing to hold down full-time jobs. The survey found that support from parents is still a large factor contributing to student incomes, but many students do not have this luxury available and instead opt for working.
One of the biggest financial burdens for university students is accommodation fees. Not only are students and parents concerned about the raising of tuition fees, but accommodation costs are soaring burning a hole in student pockets. The Money Charity said many students were being forced into work just to afford accommodation, based on a survey of 150 universities. They reported that at certain universities, the cheapest rooms took up two-thirds of the maximum available student loan. Parents and students are often unaware of the costs of student living and are not prepared for the upcoming fees.
Laura Bishop, a student from Birmingham University, who works whilst studying said, “It was difficult to begin with but having the extra income has been beneficial and worth the experience. It began to cut into my study time, but using my frees effectively helped me to alleviate the pressure”.
During college I took four A-levels and worked full time at in a restaurant, I continued to work twenty-five hours a week in my first year of university. I highly doubt I would have done any better in my studies if I was not working. One of the main reasons I worked was to get some extra money, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to rely on my parents if I fell short of cash.The second term I didn’t have a job and I missed the distraction and the money. I had to drastically cut down spending which was a hard lifestyle to adapt too whilst living in halls.
Oxford and Cambridge students are advised against undertaking any part-time, but most universities recommend no more than 10 to 15 hours of outside work during term time. Work experience is considered by many institutions as vital to improving your CV; the right job can improve your employment prospects and help you to learn skills, as well as giving you some much-needed cash.
I think it’s important for students to have a part time job to increase their independence, have vital experience and improve their time management. But it’s important to not be weighed down and feel pressured to do extra shifts which can leave you feeling stressed and overburdened. For many students working part time is a necessity not a choice, but it does provide many benefits which more often than not outweigh the negatives.
By Connie Basnett
[Image Credit: Alper Çuğun]