upReach research on the negative impact of balancing part-time work with university study is featured in the State of the Nation Report, launched today

For their sixth annual State of the Nation Report, the Social Mobility Commission asked upReach to survey students about the impact of part-time employment on their university experience. 100% of the students surveyed had a household income of under £42,620, and 90% had a household income of under £26,000. They reported substantial negative effects on academic performance, wellbeing and wider participation in university activities.

Of the students upReach surveyed:

  • Over a quarter of those currently in paid employment are working more than 16 hours in an average week
  • 73% said that their paid work was having an impact on their studies, 70% on their wider participation in university life, and 53% on their wellbeing. 68% said that their paid work was affecting more than one of these aspects.
  • 98% cited a financial reason as the primary driver for undertaking paid work during their degree, despite already receiving financial support towards living costs whilst at university.

Students said:

  • I skip lectures because I’m so tired, and find it hard to catch up on work as my job needs me 2 days a week, but uni needs me 5 days a week plus individual study”
  • “It’s hard to be friends with non-working students who refuse to appreciate how much harder you have to work or why you have to miss social things for work. Plus, you can’t go home during holidays because you need to work, so it’s easier to get homesick
  • “I have [sought] therapy to deal with my inability to communicate, because I’m so tired and exhausted. It’s affected my ability to get internships and perform at interviews

This research demonstrates that maintaining employment alongside study can hold back high-potential students from less-advantaged backgrounds from developing the skills they need to compete with their more advantaged peers in the graduate recruitment market, and ultimately to succeed professionally.

The full upReach report can be found by clicking the following link – Report: Impact of part-time jobs at university.

John Craven, Chief Executive of upReach, said:
“It is sadly unsurprising that the need to undertake part-time employment alongside a degree negatively affects the student experience, and disproportionately affects those from less-advantaged backgrounds. Regardless of their socio-economic status, all students should be able to make the most of their degree. The ability to participate in all aspects of university life, including extracurricular activities, is crucial to making the most of the university experience and developing the employability skills necessary to secure a top graduate job. It is important that we listen to the students surveyed, and it is encouraging to note that progressive employers are doing so: many recognise the vital skills that these students build by working alongside their degree as at least equally valuable to those gained through extracurricular activities or traditional professional internships. This approach allows employers to take on skilled, versatile and experienced graduates from a more diverse range of backgrounds.”

Noshin Choudhury, upReach Programme Coordinator, said:
“As a former upReach Associate who worked an average of 16 hours per week at university, I empathise with the students I support who struggle to maintain their academic and personal lives alongside a part-time job, and indeed those whose work commitments make it impossible to engage as much as they would like to in preparing for their future professional career. The flexibility of the upReach programme can make the difference for these students, enabling them, around their jobs, to build the career knowledge, networks and key employability skills that they need to match their career aspirations, and ultimately succeed in securing top graduate roles.”


John Craven | Chief Executive, upReach
Tel. 07971 274469
Email john.craven@upreach.org.uk

Note to editors:
upReach is a charitable organisation supporting less-advantaged undergraduates to achieve their career potential. Currently supporting over 1,200 students, upReach follows an ambitious 3-year strategy to expand its reach and impact. Through partnerships with top employers and universities, upReach deliver a comprehensive programme of professional development, working to address the attainment gap for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds after university. Learn more at www.upreach.org.uk.

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