The report on term-time working ("Cover-up claims over debt research", November 18) is depressing at face value and raises many questions for all those careers services and student unions that run Jobshops.
They would be loath to be seen as providing a job-finding service to studentsthat was damaging academic performance. Their philo-sophy and raison d'etre is that they are supporting students in their study by helping them to earn an income that will enable them to continue with their courses.
The reality of the need for students to work has been evident for many years now. Many courses, particularly in humanities and social sciences, are structured so that attendance is confined to two or three days of the week to make paid work possible.
However, the report's author, Claire Callender, notes that there were increases in the percentage of students working and in the number of hours worked in the period following the last reform of student financial support in 1998.
Arguably, the removal of the upfront fee planned in the current Higher Education Act will improve students' financial position while studying. In any case, if a university is engaged in promoting part-time work opportunities it at least has the opportunity of warning students of the dangers of doing too many hours and asking employers to set agreed limits on the number of hours offered to one individual.
What is not clear is whether the increased term-time working since 1998 has resulted in a greater proportion of lower degrees - say 2.2s and below. Is it not the case that an increased proportion of 2.1s and above has been awarded over this period? But that is a whole other debate.
The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services