ERF presentations: students’ employment during studies

In the second parallel session on working students at the EUROSTUDENT Researchers’ Forum, national research teams from Malta, Italy, Hungary, France and Germany focused on following issues in their presentations:

  1. The benefit and drawback of working alongside studies with a focus on students’ academic progress and labour market transition;
  2. The labour market experience and living costs as factors of working alongside studies;
  3. The impact of work intensity alongside studies to students’ academic progress; and
  4. What type of employment is beneficial or harmful for students’ academic progress.

In general, work related to studies, according to self-reported data is beneficial to academic achievement and plans for future studies in Hungary, while work unrelated to studies was found to be harmful for students in Hungary and France. Results from Malta showed that the development of part-time studies proves useful for those students having to combine studies and work. Findings from Italian survey also presented an interesting case of monitoring student employment over time to evaluate the impact of Bologna reforms on student workload and time available for studies as well as the impact of the financial crisis on labour market opportunities for young people. Undergoing study in Serbia was also focused on monitoring students’ labour market involvement and comparisons of the data collected for EUROSTUDENT V with that still to be collected for EUROSTUDENT VI.

Madonna Maroun from the National Commission for Further and Higher Education, Malta, presented a research entitled “Improving the educational experiences of students who work. Using data from EUROSTUDENT VI, the study was focused on students who work alongside their studies. The data demonstrated that employment during studies is a reality and a considerable number of students in Malta are working alongside their part-time and full-time studies. Considering that one of the main objectives of the Education Strategy for Malta 2014 –2024 is to increase attainment and retention in further and higher education, it is crucial to cater for the needs of this large group of working students to ensure their successful and timely completion of studies and to encourage them to remain in education alongside their employment. It was suggested to increase the opportunities for part-time studies in short-cycle and Bachelor programmes for a smooth transition to the next levels of higher education through a flexible provision of education, including blended and e-learning, and integration of work-related content into the curriculum.

Giovanni Finocchietti, Research Director of Associazione CIMEA, who carries out the EUROSTUDENT survey in Italy presented “Trends in student employment, and how students spend time budget.The presentation focused on the topic of time budget in the framework of Italian students’ and their conditions for learning, comparing data from the different editions of the Italian EUROSTUDENT Survey since the early ’90s to the present years. The study provided some indications that after a continuous growth during the ‘90s, the implementation of the Bologna reforms had an impact on students’ employment rates, due to a lower students’ age and a massive involvement in study-related activities. Current trends show a strong impact of the economic crisis: reduced employment opportunities turned into more time available, which many students have invested in studying rather than in leisure activities. This behaviour appears to be consolidated by the feeling that the future is now more uncertain than it was in the past.

Ádám Hámori and Ágoston Horváth from the Hungarian Educational Authority presented their research on “Employment during Study Time: Promoter or Hinderer?scrutinizing the impact of the various types of students’ employment on involvement in learning activities based on Hungarian EUROSTUDENT VI data. The study was based on the assumption that employment during higher education is often forced or strategically focused on improved employability. The study was focused to examine relationships between students’ socio-demographic background and ‘forced student employment’. The study also examined the impact of strategic and forced employment on students’ future plans in higher education. Drawing on descriptive statistics, cluster analysis, cross-tabulation and multivariate analysis the study showed that ‘forced’ student employment is a result of students’ socio-economic disadvantage. Moreover, the study demonstrated the negative consequences of ‘forced employment’ on students’ future education plans. It is expected that these findings can help in reviewing and enhancing the efficiency of student support.

Odile Ferry from OVE – CNOUS, France, presented study that was focused on “Students’ employment and studies.Based on the data from EUROSTUDENT V and national datasets (OVE, 2013) the study was focused on exploration of the reasons behind the negative perception of students’ employment. Overall, the incidence of employment alongside studies in France appears to be comparable to other EUROSTUDENT countries. Similar to motivation of Hungarian students, the motivation of French students to work was strongly related to their financial needs or their desire to gain professional experience. This probably has impact on the types of employment that students hold and their perception of a negative effect on their studies and their completion of studies. The analysis indicated that activities related to study content tend to have a positive impact certainly through the professional experience that employment provides. In contrast, employment that was not related to studies, particularly if these are very time consuming, was more likely to have a negative impact on academic progress and students are more often perceived this type of employment as a hindrance.

Marija Milisavljević from the Centre for Quality Assurance of the University of Belgrade, Serbia, presented the plans for analysis of “Working students” based on a data to be collected for EUROSTUDENT VI. Since one of the main points of the Serbian Strategy of Higher Education is to support students in gaining the skills and competences required on the national and international labour market, data to be collected through EUROSTUDENT VI are expected to identify to what extent and which higher education institutions are successful in this regard. The study will focus on students’ perceptions of their skills and competencies, and the relevance of their skills for the labour market. This issue is important since the data from EUROSTUDENT V demonstrated that most students in Serbia, especially at Bachelor level, didn’t work alongside their studies. The EUROSTUDENT VI in Serbia will focus on monitoring of students’ socio-economic characteristics and their employment-related activities. These analyses are expected to provide policy makers with data that will help them increase student employability and improve their living and working conditions.

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