Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 36

Supplementary memorandum from Professor Claire Callender, South Bank University (HE 154)[59]

NON-COMPLETION

  1.  In the 1998-9 Student Income and Expenditure Study[60] we found that 30 per cent of all full-time students had thought about dropping out of university. Of these, 38 per cent reported that this was for financial reasons. So overall, one in 10 of all the students surveyed had thought about dropping out for financial reasons.


  2.  The Committee wanted to know if students who lived at home with their parents were more or less likely than students living independently to consider dropping out. There was no statistically significant association between students' thoughts about dropping out and their living circumstances.

  3.  Some 41 per cent of students who had thought about dropping out and were living at home with their parents said they had considered dropping out for financial reasons. This compared with 34 per cent of students living independently. However, this difference was not statistically significant.

TERM-TIME WORKING

  4.  Around 47 per cent of all full-time students surveyed undertook paid work at some point during term-time (ie, they worked at least one hour during term-time).

  5.  The chances of a student working during term-time was significantly associated with the following:

    —  Gender—women were more likely than men to work in term-time;

    —  Living arrangements—students living with their parents were more likely to work than those living independently;

    —  Where students attended university—students in London and in Scotland were more likely to work compared with students attending university elsewhere;

    —  Subject of study—education and social-science students were more likely to work;

    —  Grant—students who received a grant were more likely to work than those not receiving one;

    —  Debt—those with more debts (once their savings were taken into account) were more likely to work; and

    —  Financial difficulties - students who were most concerned about their finances were most likely to work during term-time. This finding, alongside the finding about debt, suggest that students' work behaviour was influenced by their financial situation.

  6.  Term-time working was not significantly associated with students':

    —  Parents' socio-economic position (indicated by their occupation and employment status);

    —  family type (ie, single students, lone parents, married students with and without children);

    —  ethnicity;

    —  their year of study; and

    —  whether or not they received a student loan.

IMPACT OF TERM-TIME WORKING ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

  7.  There was strong evidence showing that a sizeable minority of students perceived term-time employment as having a detrimental impact on their academic performance. Some 45 per cent of all students who worked during term-time believed it had negatively affected their coursework or studies at university/college. This was primarily because they could not devote enough time to their academic work. In addition, 44 per cent of all students who worked during term-time identified part-time working as a reason why financial difficulties had negatively affected their academic performance.

MEASURING THE HOURS WORKED DURING TERM-TIME

  8.  We have calculated the hours worked by students during term-time in two ways.[61] First, we have calculated the average number of hours worked for each week that the student actually worked during term-time.

  9.  The drawback with this measure is that students' employment patterns fluctuated, and often varied from one term/semester to another. For instance, some students worked just a few hours in one week but more hours in a subsequent week, while some worked for just a few weeks in a given term/semester but more weeks in another term/semester. Only a minority of students worked the same number of hours each week, and every term. In other words, calculating the average number of hours worked per week for those weeks that students actually worked, gives us no indication of the overall extent of students' engagement with the labour market whilst studying.

  10.  Consequently, we have developed a second measure for assessing the average number of hours worked during term-time. This measure calculates the average number of hours worked each week for the total number of term-time weeks, rather than just for those weeks actually worked. So this measure takes into account the number of weeks worked as well as the hours worked over all term weeks.

AVERAGE HOURS WORKED FOR EACH WEEK ACTUALLY WORKED

  11.  The average number of hours worked for those weeks that were worked was around 14 hours, and the median was 12 hours per week.

  12.  The average number of hours worked each week ranged from one hour to 47 hours. Table 1 gives information about the distribution of average weekly hours. A third of students worked up to 10 hours a week, half worked 12 hours or more, and over three-quarters worked up to 20 hours a week. So, just under a quarter of students worked more than 20 hours a week.

Table 1: The distribution of average weekly hours worked in term-time—averaged over all weeks actually worked

Average hours worked during term-time—over all weeks actually worked
Col %
Cumulative %
Between 0 and 5 hours
8
8
5 to 10 hours
25
33
10 to 15 hours
26
59
15 to 20 hours
19
78
20 to 25 hours
10
88
25 to 30 hours
4
92
30 hours and above
8
100
Total
100
  
Weighted N
945*
  


* all students who worked in term-time (missing n=10)
Source: South Bank University—Student Income and Expenditure Survey 1998-9

  13.  Graph 1 also shows the distribution of hours worked for each week worked. It plots the overall patterns of hours worked and shows that approximately half of the students who worked during term-time worked between 7 and 17 hours per week when averaged over all the weeks that they actually worked.


AVERAGE HOURS WORKED FOR ALL TERM WEEKS

  14.  The average number of hours worked averaged over all term weeks, including those weeks when the student did not work, was 9.5 hours per week and the median was eight hours or less.

  15.  The average number of hours worked each week ranged from one hour to 39 hours. Table 2 gives information about the distribution of average weekly hours. A third of students worked less than five hours a week, over half worked up to 10 hours a week, and three-quarters up to 15 hours a week.

  16.  Graph 2 also plots the distribution of average hours worked each week during term-time. It shows that half of students who worked in term-time, worked between 2.5 and 13.5 hours per week on average over all term weeks. As Graph 2 demonstrates, there were some students who worked very long hours whilst they were studying, with around 13 per cent of students working 20 hours per week or more.

Table 2: The Distribution of average weekly hours worked in term-time—averaged over all term weeks (including those not worked)

Average hours worked during term-time—over all weeks actually worked
Col %
Cumulative %
Between 0 and 5 hours
35
36
5 to 10 hours
24
59
10 to 15 hours
17
76
15 to 20 hours
11
87
20 to 25 hours
8
95
25 to 30 hours
2
97
30 hours and above
3
100
Total
100
  
Weighted N
945*
  

* all students who worked in term-time (missing n=10)
Source: South Bank University—Student Income and Expenditure Survey 1998-9


STUDENTS WORKING 20 HOURS OR MORE A WEEK OVER ALL TERM WEEKS

  17.  One in eight students (ie 13 per cent) worked particularly long hours, namely 20 hours or more a week, over all term weeks. The chances of a student working such long hours was significantly associated with the following:

    —  Gender—men were more likely than women to work 20 hours or more a week;

    —  Living arrangements - students living with their parents were more likely to work long hours than those living independently;

    —  Where students attended university—students in London and in Scotland were more likely to work more than 20 hours compared with students attending university elsewhere;

    —  Subject of study - maths/computing and social-science students were more likely to work long hours while students studying education and medicine were least likely to work such hours;

    —  Student loan—students with a loan were more likely to work long hours than those without one;

    —  Debt—those without any debts (once their savings were taken into account) were more likely to work 20 or more hours a week while those with savings (once their debts were taken into account) were the least likely to work long hours; and

    —  Financial difficulties—students who identified working part-time as the reason why their studies were negatively affected by financial difficulties where more likely to work long hours than those not citing this reason.

Professor Claire Callender

March 2001


59   See Minutes of Evidence. p 100. Back

60   C Callender and M Kemp (2000) Changing Student Finances: Income, Expenditure and the Take-up of Student Loans among full time and part-time Higher Education Students in 1998-99 DfEE Research Report 213, Department for Education and Employment, London. Crown copyright is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Back

61   These calculations are different from those cited in our report. Back


 
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