Young, fun and not living off Mum: Four in ten students earn while they learn, working 13 hours a week on average

21 September 2017

  • More than one in ten hold down multiple jobs and around a fifth work more than 18 hrs per week
  • Research shows three quarters of students worry about money as average expected debt is £41k
  • Top three jobs are retail assistant, waiter and barista – but tech is creating new ways of working

As Fresher’s Week rolls out across the UK, universities research reveals how four in ten students will soon be juggling both the world of work and study due to money worries – with many clocking up big timesheets.

Research from Nationwide FlexStudent - the UK’s only fee-free student current account - highlights that some four in ten (43%) students work during term time, putting in an average of just under 13 hours per week (13%). However, around a fifth (18%) of students work in excess of 18 hours a week with three per cent working more than 30 hours on top of their studies. More than one in ten (13%) hold down more than one job, while two thirds (63%) take on evening shifts due to study commitments.

For most students, university is the first time they have lived away from home and where they make lifelong friends, so it’s no surprise that the top reason cited by students for working during university is to finance their social life (64%). However, for four in ten (40%), they work simply to lower post-university debt, which according to the survey of more than 1,000 UK students is £41,348 on average.

This is perhaps why close to half of students (48%) place debt as one of their main worries. The poll shows three quarters (74%) are concerned about how much debt they’ll be in when they finish university, with more than half (53%) thinking they will never pay off their loan. Therefore, earning while learning could be seen as a practical solution to keeping debt at bay.

Putting in the hours:

The research shows that around one in six (16%) students would consider getting an additional job if they were struggling for money at university, while 15 per cent would put in more hours at their existing job. However, parental support still tops the list, with four in ten (40%) claiming they would turn to mum and dad for help. And while nearly one in five (18%) would use their overdraft – a common fall-back for students – just one per cent would resort to using a payday loan.

Types of job:

When choosing a job, three quarters of students (75%) think the most important factor is flexible hours closely followed by good pay (71%). The top five jobs for students are:

  1. Retail Assistant - 30%
  2. Waiter/Waitress - 18%
  3. Barista - 11%
  4. Bartending - 9%
  5. Supermarket Assistant - 7%

Tech-ing it seriously:

While more traditional jobs still lead the way, many are looking at more creative solutions for making money. Two thirds (64%) of students believe that technology and the internet has made making money while at university easier with more than six in ten (63%) having used apps or software to earn money, such as online marketplaces.

Nearly one in five (19%) would consider starting an online business and just slightly less (17%) would consider starting a blog or vlog. More than one in eight (12%) would consider doing some freelance writing and one in ten (10%) would consider using their creative talents to sell homemade products.

Money saving techniques:

As well as making money, students are very savvy at saving. The top ten ways students save money, according to the survey, are:

Number Way of Saving Percentage
1 Shopping in discount stores 78%
2 Buying reduced items in supermarkets 66%
3 Using a railcard 58%
4 Using NUS discount card 56%
5 Budgeting 53%
6 Freezing leftovers for another day 51%
7 Using coupons and discount vouchers 49%
8 Buying second hand textbooks 48%
9 Making meals as a group 34%
10 Shopping at local market 28%

Dan King, Nationwide Building Society’s Head of Current Account Product Management, said: “The high cost of tuition fees has meant that many students are leaving university with tens of thousands of pounds to pay back. Chipping away at this mountain of debt is the reason why many students earn while they learn, with one in ten having multiple jobs.

“The majority of students take on traditional jobs in shops, restaurants and bars, but many are using technology to their advantage and creating online businesses which they can carry on with post university. While these jobs are helping students fund their way through university, they are also allowing them to gain valuable workplace experience which will help give them a head start when it comes time to start their career properly.”

Nationwide’s FlexStudent is the UK’s only completely fee-free student current account. It offers an overdraft which grows from £1,000 in the first year of University to £3,000 in year three. The account offers 1% AER in credit interest on balances up to £1,000 and is linked to Nationwide’s Simply Rewards cashback shopping scheme.

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

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