22 SES 09 D, Student wages, loans and employment
approximately four out of ten of higher education students were engaged in paid work in 2012 (Quintini, 2015). The proportion of Canadian students aged 20-24 involved in paid work has grown over time from 26.6% in 1976 to 52% in 2010 (Canadian Federation of Students, 2013). In fact, Canada has one of the highest percentages of working students (see Hauschildt, Vogtle, & Gwosc, 2018) and most employed students work in areas unrelated to their field of study (Quintini 2015). Most university students face significant financial pressure to engage in paid work while studying because of increasing tuition costs and the perceived need to graduate with work experience (Fenech & Raykov, 2018; Zeidler, 2017).
Even though researchers and policymakers demonstrate an increased interest in university graduates’ transitions to work, a relatively small number of studies has been focused on the quality of student work experiences while students are studying (Smith & Patton 2013). Also, little research on students’ term-time paid work examines their motivation for work and perceptions of the benefits and challenges of their involvement in paid work.
A large number of empirical studies indicate that student work has some positive outcomes and is consistent with policy-makers’ goal of preparing students for post-graduation work (Hauschildt et al. 2018). However, research also shows that the quality and quantity of that work makes a difference and that the degree of control students have over their work schedules, and tasks are important (Meeuvwise et al. 2017). In addition, the extent to which student paid work and study are in conflict has been shown to negatively affect learning (Buda & Lenighan, 2005). Butler’s (2007) job quality framework considers both work-study conflict (student jobs that deplete resources) and work-study facilitation (student jobs that enrich resources) to identify the mechanisms through which term-time work benefits or harms school performance. Our study is focused on the exploration of the intensity of work, students' motivation and time budget, and their association with students' sociodemographic characteristics.
This study is based on preliminary survey findings from a mixed methods study of undergraduate involvement in term-time paid work at a large research-intensive Canadian university in spring of 2018. Our survey module was attached to an online institutional survey at a large research-intensive university. Those who completed this survey were directed to our survey module on their work and learning, and 1,733 participants participated in this study. The response rate for the survey was 20 %. Results from our preliminary analysis show that 55% of respondents worked during the first school term in 2017-18. More women than men worked (59% vs. 47%) and more domestic than international students worked (56% vs. 48%) but men worked a significantly higher number of hours per week (17.45 vs. 15.61 hours). Also, more students from lower socioeconomic status families were involved in paid work (e.g., 62% of “first generation” students vs. 53% of others). Less than half of students (45%) were not involved in paid work; among them, a significant proportion was interested in paid work but unable to find a job. Among students involved in paid work one-quarter worked more than ten hours per week, while a slightly higher proportion (28%) worked less than ten hours. In terms of motivations, students most frequently reported that they work for additional spending money, to gain experience, and to buy food and for other basic needs. Conversely, the intensity of paid work is more strongly correlated with students' financial needs, need to pay their rent and tuition fees, to satisfy their basic needs and to help their parents reduce expenses for their education. Other factors including motivation to earn additional spending money were not statistically significant.
Participants in this study most frequently reported that their parents contribute to their funding for university and a considerable number indicated that they use personal savings and earnings from paid work. Scholarships and bursaries were mentioned only by a very small number of students. Results from our study are consistent with other studies that indicate that employment income is a highly important source for funding university studies (Ouellette, 2006; Bristow & Nestico-Semianiw, 2014). Results of our study indicate that part-time work can help students to gain relevant employment-related technical skills as well as soft skills. These impacts are often related to the number of work hours. For instance, 10 to15 hours of work is often considered as the point at which the benefits of working diminish (Richardson et al., 2009; Riggert et al., 2006). As reported by the participants in our study, negative impacts of term-time work included missing classes and tutorials, handing in poor quality or late assignments, and not keeping up with reading (Robotham, 2013). Similar to some other studies (Burston, 2017), our survey shows that intensive work leads to “time poverty” and negatively impacts students’ wellbeing, academic performance and community engagement. Regarding the negative consequences of work, approximately two-thirds of working students indicated that they had experienced stress or anxiety and just a slightly smaller proportion of students feel exhausted. Results also show that students who work more often have a GPA of C than students not involved in paid work. The study shows that students who work more hours spend less time on individual learning and class attendance. Our current work is focused on the multivariate analysis of data to examine the stability of findings as well as on the collection of qualitative data that is expected to contribute to the interpretation of survey findings.
Bristow, A., & Nestico-Semianiw, S. (2014). We work hard for our money: Student employment and the university experience in Ontario. Toronto: Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. Buda, R., & Lenaghan, J. A. (2005). Engagement in multiple roles: An investigation of the student-work relationship. Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management, 6(3), 211-224. Burston, M. (2017). I work and don’t have time for that theory stuff: Time poverty and higher education, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 41(4), 516-529. Butler, A. B. (2007). Job characteristics and college performance and attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(2), 500-510. Chatzitheochari, S., & Arber, S. (2012). Class, gender and time poverty. The British Journal of Sociology, 63(3), 451-471. CUSC. (2014, June). Canadian University Survey Consortium 2014 middle-years student survey. Grosjean, G. (2004). Co-op education: Access to benefits or benefits to access? In L. Andres, & F. Finlay (Eds.), Student affairs: Experiencing higher education (pp. 144-70). Vancouver, BC: UBC Press. Fenech, C. S., & Raykov, M. (2018). Studying and Working—Hurdle or Springboard? In European Higher Education Area: The Impact of Past and Future Policies (pp. 237-258). Springer. Hauschildt, K., Vogtle, E. M., & Gwosc, C. (2018). Social and Economic Conditions of Student Life in Europe: EUROSTUDENT VI. W. Bertelsmann Verlag. Marshall, K. (2010). Perspectives on labour and income: Employment patterns of postsecondary students. Statistics Canada. Meeuvwise et al. (2017). The work-study interface: Similarities and differences between ethnic minority and ethnic majority students. Higher Education, 73(2), 261-280. Ouellette, S. (2006). How students fund their postsecondary education: Findings from the postsecondary education participation survey. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. Quintini, G. (2015). Working and learning: A diversity of patterns. (OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 169). Paris: OECD. Richardson, M., Evans, C., & Gbadamosi, G. (2009). Funding full-time study through part-time work. Journal of Education and Work, 22(4), 319-334. Riggert, S. C., Boyle, M., Petroski, J. M., Ash, D., & Rude-Parkins, C. (2006). Student employment and higher education: Empiricism and contradiction. Review of Educational Research, 76(1), 63-92. Robotham, D. (2013). Students’ perspectives on term-time employment: An exploratory qualitative study. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 37(3), 431-442. Smith, E., & Patton, W. (2013). Part-time working by students: Is it a policy issue, and for whom? Journal of Education and Work, 26(1), 48-76. Zeidler, M. (2017, August 27). Campus advisers promote work experience, but students struggle to find balance. CBC News.
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