Students' paid and unpaid work
21. The recent UNITE/MORI Student Living Report
describes student life as significantly troubled by financial
with 43 per cent of students doing some part-time work during
students finding it difficult to juggle the demands of academic
study with other commitments at a highly pressured time in their
22. Estimates of the average number of hours worked
range from 9 hours to 14 hours per week. Students from low income
families and those who have taken out a loan tend to work longer
hours, sometimes 20 hours or more each week. The majority of such
students are employed on low paid unskilled work in catering,
sales and personal services. Available studies of student employment
show variations in the proportion reporting adverse effects on
studies that range from 27 per cent to 79 per cent; much smaller
proportions report positive effects of work on their academic
23. Our predecessor Committee made the following
"we recommend that higher education institutions
should provide guidance to their students that they should not
work in paid employment for more than 12 hours a week during term
time. However, the Committee recognises that seeking to reduce
noncompletion by preventing students from working longer
hours, if they are doing so in order to fund their living costs,
may be selfdefeating unless access to financial support
for less well off students were improved".
24. While some students benefit from study patterns
which allow significant periods out of term-time in which to undertake
paid work without detriment to their studies, the ability to find
and do the work commonly available to students is not universal.
Students with caring responsibilities will inevitably have less
free time in which to undertake employment. Students with disabilities
may have restricted free time because of the extra time they may
need to perform the tasks associated with day-to-day living (for
students with restricted mobility) or may need more time to do
study-related tasks (for students with dyslexia, for example).
They may also be unable to undertake paid work because of the
nature of their impairment or because of discrimination by employers.
The bulk of students, however, do have an ability to earn out
25. The financial imperative to find paid work also
limits the ability of students to engage in valuable and rewarding
voluntary work. This denies the voluntary sector a valuable resource
and restricts opportunities for students to make a personal contribution
to their communities. The proposal from the Institute of Public
Policy Research that voluntary work by students could be linked
to fee credits should be considered seriously in the Government's
26. Those students who wish to work during term time
should be encouraged, within the limit suggested in our predecessors'
Report of no more than 12 hours of paid work a week in term time.
Experience of the workplace may bring significant benefits and
enables students to limit their borrowing. However, we recommend
that in its review of student support the Government should pay
particular attention to the needs of a significant group of students
who may be unable to work.
27. The proportion of student expenditure on maintaining
a lifestyle of leisure pursuits, and particularly the consumption
of alcohol and tobacco, has received significant media
and ministerial attention.
While it would be wrong to ignore the fact that students often
incur debt, or decide to work, in order to support lifestyle choices,
this focus can distract us from the reality of the serious hardship
encountered by a significant number of students.