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A Three-Day Week Offered for Students to Find Part-Time Work

clock iconCreated At:29 August, 2023
write iconCreated By:Hagar Samir

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New teaching schedules for college students are believed to help them find jobs while studying. 

UK universities are decreasing the number of on-campus days when students have to go to college and are required to attend classes. This is to help students work part-time and support themselves financially while studying. 

Timetables for teaching have changed, and lectures and seminars are now scheduled over two or three days. These lectures used to be scattered around during the week, not allowing students to have adequate time off for themselves. This facilitates students’ lives, especially international ones, as they will be able to find part-time jobs. Almost half of students now work while studying, a percentage that increased from 34% in 2021 to 45% in 2022. 

Because of the small maintenance loans that do not cover a lot of things, like accommodation costs and basic human needs, students who start their degrees nowadays are financially unstable, which makes them more anxious and not able to concentrate on their studies. Around two-thirds of students in their first year get part-time jobs to support themselves, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Students have discussed how this affects them and that they sometimes have to skip meals, work extra shifts, and rely on credit cards to help themselves. 

A university in Leicester, De Montfort University, already tested smaller timetables last year in half of its courses and has announced that they were a success. The university will be introducing these compressed timetables this autumn for students. The university suggests that instead of studying four modules for around four hours at a time, students study only one module for a week. 

Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Katie Normington, said, “The change allows for more compact timetables, and this sits around students’ lives better; a lot of students are working and have other responsibilities, and it makes organisation of that easier. We had great feedback last year from students. Internal surveys show that those on the block-teaching timetable were about 10% happier than those not doing it.” 

This policy is also important for students who commute; they usually live at home because they cannot afford to move away because of the living conditions. “Students with a Leicester or Leicestershire postcode rose from 42 to 47% last year,” said Prof. Normington. “If they are travelling into campus, it is easier and cheaper to do that a couple of times a week rather than four or five times for an hour here and there.”

Sunderland, Anglia Ruskin University London’s campuses, and the University of Law, with 16 campuses around England, all follow this new schedule. In addition, at Coventry University’s campuses in Dagenham and Greenwich, students only go to college two and a-half days a week. 

“The model is entirely down to the cost of living issue,” said John Dishman, pro-vice chancellor and CEO of CU Group. “Barking and Dagenham is the poorest borough of London. People rely on having part-time work, and their income is basically maintenance loans and part-time work. We have seen it more and more over the last two years or so. People will not have access to courses unless they are built into their ability to work. Some people are working nearly five days a week and studying with us the rest of the time. It’s not so much a part-time job as a full-time one. Their dedication is amazing. We have our graduation ceremony every year at the O2, and it’s just phenomenal the amount of work people put in to get there.”

At the Coventry and Scarborough campuses, lectures are similarly held either in the early morning or in the afternoon. This is part of the commitment to “life-shaped learning”. Roehampton University also has a new schedule that helps students plan ahead, which makes it easier for them to find work. Starting this autumn, first-year students will have most of their courses no more than three days a week to help students “combine study with work, caring, and other commitments”.

A survey was made for this year’s students that showed “cost of living worries” ranked number one as a top concern. This survey was conducted by Advance HE and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).

Almost three-quarters of the 10,000 respondents stated that the cost of living worries had affected their studies and concentration, and most of them considered dropping out. 

“The increase in the proportion of students who feel compelled to do so many hours of paid employment that their studies may suffer is a particularly acute challenge,” said Nick Hillman, HEPI director. “Those in power should urgently look afresh at the maintenance support on offer to undergraduates. The universities minister said recently that a fee rise was ‘just not going to happen’ because families were already facing cost pressures. But it is not the fees that are the problem for students in relation to the cost of living. What affects them is rising rent and the prices in the supermarket, and if ministers really cared about that, they’d be raising maintenance loans.”

Students also stated that there were times when they couldn’t go to their universities because they had no money and that they had to go through “carefully calculating rent, bills, and food”.


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