The cost of living crisis is severe for students from lower-income backgrounds. Students who are unable to count on parental support to fill the “cash gap” – the gap between the cost of study and the amount of student loan received – can find themselves working in excess of twenty hours per week to be able to continue their studies.
A recent Sutton Trust study found that 27 per cent of students have taken up a job or increased hours to meet financial commitments, while the University of Manchester’s Student Union’s report revealed that 32 per cent of their students work part time and 59 per cent are currently seeking work.
While universities actively encourage students to gain work experience to enhance their employability, but this discourse often obfuscates the troubling realities of work.
We researched the experiences of students from post-1992 universities working zero-hour contracts in hospitality. Worryingly, we found that student experiences of work can be more negative than positive and can affect not only academic performance and wellbeing, but also impact students’ long-term attitudes to work.