Working while studying: A Follow-up to the Student Income and Expenditure Survey 2011/12

Pollard E, Williams M, Arthur S, Kotecha M | Research Paper 142 | Department for Business, Innovation and Skills | Sep 2013

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This qualitative research report is a follow-up to the Student Income and Expenditure Survey 2011 to 2012. It explores the motivations, challenges and benefits experiences of students who worked during their higher education (HE) study.

It looked at:

  • why students work while studying
  • the kinds of work they do (including paid work and volunteering, work related to courses and wider work)
  • how they choose or find their jobs
  • what support their HE institutions provide in finding work and what support might have been helpful
  • the immediate and longer-term benefits and challenges of working while studying full-time.

Findings show that students are financially motivated to undertake paid work which they want to be flexible and convenient. Employability skills are secondary or tertiary motivations.

In contrast, employability considerations are important when taking on unpaid work placements, particularly where students have to give up paid work to do this.

All work was seen to provide benefits regardless of how relevant it was to a student’s course or career goals. Work gave students a range of life and work experiences, and also insight into the jobs market.

The report covers the challenges of balancing paid work and study.