Study links part-time work to student ill-health

Issued: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 00:00:00 BST

The health of students is suffering as a result of trying to combine working part-time with full-time study for a degree. That is one of the key findings of a study conducted for the University by Dr Claire Carney, Divisional Researcher in the Student & Staff Support Division and Sharon McNeish, Head of the Student & Staff Support Division.

The survey of a 1600-strong representative sample of second year undergraduates at the University of Glasgow was conducted last year by means of an email questionnaire designed to assess the relationship between part-time working and mental and physical health. Eight indicators were used to compare student health with a comparable population of the general public in terms of age and sex. On seven of the eight categories used, student health was significantly poorer. The findings reflect similar results from surveys in other institutions. The survey found that almost one in two of the student sample had part-time work and the average number of hours worked per week was just over 14. This compares with a Government- proposed maximum of ten hours. The vast majority of part-time student work was in shops, pubs and catering. The need felt by many students to take on part-time work was underlined by the further finding that four out of five had some form of debt and the average debt for the second year students studied was more than £2000. This is consistent with national studies by the NUS.

The researchers suggest that the present role of part-time work in student life is very different from the 'summer jobs' of a previous generation. If part-time work is to be a permanent feature of student life then there may well be a greaterneed for universities to educate students to manage time and cope with the pressures of study and part-time work.

The University Newsletter carries a report on the study on Page 5 as the first in a new series of articles 'Students Matter' designed to raise awareness of student issues among University staff. See http://www.gla.ac.uk/newsletter

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