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Working life and the student - can they be as one?

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According to a recent NUS survey half of students do part time work, such as bar and pub work, in order to help fund their studies - suggesting that almost two thirds work up to 11 hours a week in addition to the hours put in for their course. These statistics beg the question: has it become a necessity for some students to have a job whilst at university?

It is certainly true that student life can be an expensive experience: course materials, living costs and the general expense of city life all add up, and of course, no one wants to be left behind when it comes to partying and going out. After all it is all part of the university experience and is to be expected, right?

However, there is an element of choice here. Although unfortunately we cannot choose whether or not our parents can afford to fund us throughout university, we can all choose whether or not we get a student loan, and according the NUS survey up to 73% of students use this as their main source of income. Those who choose not to get a loan and whom have no financial backing from parents or otherwise can find themselves in a sticky situation, often relying on overdrafts and part time work to pay themselves through their studies. Of course, the plus side to this is coming out of university with little debt, but at what cost?

Working more than 11 hours a week whilst also concentrating on your studies could prove a difficult balance to achieve. No one wants to be stressing over their finances when trying to concentrate on writing an essay on Hegel’s theory of conservatism, or perhaps a more likely scenario, when at the pub enjoying that well deserved second pint.

So, can you get a balance between part time work, studying and socialising? Although it may seem impossible, I would argue that in fact this can be achieved; it just takes a little dedication. I got a job within the first few months of university and although I have a loan and a grant, I have no other financial backing and so it was necessary to make it work. Working part time throughout term time can really help to keep your life in check, it gives you routine and structure that is often left behind after leaving school. Most of us find it difficult to give ourselves a timetable to work to, but having a job can allow for these things to fall into place quite naturally.

There is increasingly more pressure on students to consider their finances from an earlier age, particularly with a very competitive job market and low graduate employment. It is necessary for students to become more frugal, if only as good practice for when we leave university, and having a job in term time or otherwise can seriously help in enjoying student life. With the risk of sounding like your mother, work hard play hard!




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