It’s all work and no play for UK students this summer, according to a survey commissioned by Europe’s largest student lender, Future Finance.
Almost four in five (79%) students say that, compared to previous generations, there is now more pressure to gain work experience over the summer because of higher education costs and greater competition for jobs after graduation, meaning that for most the prized break will be spent in employment – if they can find it.
Conducted as students were breaking up for the summer, the survey asked 2,000 youngsters about their plans, finding that 78% of students feel it is important to work over the summer months, citing various reasons.
Over a quarter (26%) state the main reason they will be working is to gain work experience, followed a similar number at the other end of the spectrum who are doing it simply to make ends meet – 24% cite ‘to pay for everyday living expenses’ as their key motivation for work. A further 17% plan to work this summer to cover next year’s living expenses.
When asked about how much they would save to meet this goal, just under half (48%) said they expect to save between £500 and £2,000 to put towards fees or living costs. At the typical hourly rate of just £6-£8 an hour that over half of students (57%) expect to earn, this suggests that at least 83 hours of pay will have to be put aside to meet the £500 target. To reach the £2,000 saving target, students would need to put aside over 333 hours’ worth of wages. A shocking 17% say they will be working 31-40 hour a week this summer and a further quarter say they will be working just under that at 21-30 hours.
Jill O’Hara, a second year psychology student, said: ‘Once you’ve had a bit of a rest and recharged the batteries, the summer break is a great time to explore all kinds of opportunities. It’s a priority for me that I gain work experience that will help my future career. But it can be tough finding work that’s relevant to your degree, in your area, pays ok and is temporary or short-term. There is really strong competition for the few jobs that are an ideal fit.’
When asked what summer is all about, 63% agreed that it’s important to earn money but, equally, three in five (60%) students recognise that summer is about having fun and spending time with the family (57%). With higher education costs set to rise next year, students may find that their summer is lacking in the latter two categories.
Brian Norton, CEO of Future Finance, commented: “Summer is a great opportunity to gain work experience. But it’s worrying that so many students could lose out on their entire summer.
“There’s no doubt students are facing a more competitive work environment these days. Relevant, interesting summer work on a CV makes it a lot easier to get noticed when applying for jobs after graduation. But it’s equally important they get enough rest and downtime, so they can start their next university year energised and focused on their studies.”