THE LOOMING recession and the soaring food prices are hitting University of Edinburgh students hard. Students are resorting to increasing the number of hours they work, on top of studying for a full time degree, in order to make ends meet.
A report by the Department of Education and Skills (DfES) discovered that more than half of U.K. students now work during term time in order to meet basic living requirements. Those who study in Scotland are the students who most likely to work, with 67% of Scottish students holding a part-time job during term time.
The lack of government help is making university life increasingly difficult for students. In the U.K. student loans fall short of covering accommodation expenses, leading to the students bearing the burden of working to meet basic living costs while studying for a full-time degree. Surveys have found that students are mostly reliant upon financial help from parents, savings and government grants. However, it was leaked that the government have over-estimated their annual budget of £17 billion, by £100 million. The government is currently in deliberation as to make up this miscalculation by limiting of the number of student grants they promised to make available. If this cut happens, students are going to suffer considerably during the economic crisis.
Students in Scotland are already working on average 20 hours a week according to a financial survey conducted by the Halifax bank. This figure is five hours more than the recommended maximum number of hours a student should work per week. Research by Unicorn Jobs, a student focused careers agency, showed that students should work no more than 15 hours per week in addition to full time study, as working long hours has been proven to have a negative effect upon university education.
A recent study by the National Union of Students (NUS) showed that 59% of students surveyed felt that part-time work did adversely affect their studies. While 38% admitted that, they had missed lectures in order to attend work. The rising cost of living and the potential withdrawal of government aid will force students to put even more of their time into part-time work, which could have a catastrophic effect upon university students.
James Gribben, a fourth year politics student at the University of Edinburgh who is juggling a full-time degree with a part-time job states that “student loans do not cover flat rent and then I have bills on top of that. I would like to work more hours from the point of view that I would like more money because I am supporting myself through university. But I don’t have the time to give from uni work.”
Student life is becoming increasingly more strenuous as students are not only having to cope with moving away from home, but also have to manage a demanding work life balance that consists of academic work, paid work, society work and, if possible, a social life. Potential graduate employers are beginning to value society involvement and volunteer work, over regular part-time student jobs such as bar and shop work.
Niamh Ó Maoláin, second year Law student at the University of Edinburgh, believes that part-time work is an aspect of university life that helps to prepare you for the world of work after graduation. She stated that “part-time jobs can actually be really beneficial. You get used to a routine and learn how to get on in an office environment. Plus the money helps.”
The question is should students have to be forced into minimum wage jobs that do not give them essential skills particular to an area of work that they are interested in? Should students be inhibited from focussing on their degree due to a lack of government funding? The government’s motto was ‘Education, education, education’. Yet it is making university life financially more difficult for students, which is set to become more arduous with the looming economic crisis.