Managing a betting shop ... male modelling ... waiting on tables: this is how your students make ends meet

December 4, 1998

James Dick, 22, is a fourth-year geography student at Glasgow University. He works as a waiter 20-24 hours over four nights a week. He earnsPounds 4 per hour.

James Dick replied to a window advertisement in a restaurant during his first year at Glasgow, and he has worked there as a waiter since. He does it mainly for independence: "I prefer to live off what I earn. My parents pay for my rent, but I pay the bills and everything else out of my wages. I'd like to say that it has taught me to manage my money more carefully, but I still spend most of it going out at the weekend."

Several of his tutors have expressed concern about his working, but none has told him to stop: "My dissertation advisor asked me to get more time off in case I fall behind with my research. But there are 24 hours in a day, and nobody studies in all of them."

Problems have also arisen with last-minute coursework. "That's usually my fault. My employers are pretty reasonable about giving me time off for essay deadlines or about swapping shifts when I have exams. There have been times when I've had trouble negotiating field trips around days off, and it would be good to get away for a week to research my dissertation instead of catching the odd day, but on the whole they are quite relaxed."

Dawn X, 22, is a second-year BSc food science student. She bakes cakes and pastries for a bread shop/ patisserie from 6am-9.30am, seven days a week. She earns Pounds 5 per hour.

Dawn X's job is a secret from her tutor, who said it was affecting her grades in her first year. She admits that work is not essential. "I don't need to work for the money. This is my first real experience of the industry I want to work in. I see it as part of my course and I hope I can use what I've learned at work in my final-year project."

She was determined to work from the outset, answering a newspaper ad for the job at the same time as her degree course began. She started working fewer days, but she increased her hours as her commitment to the job grew. She gets up at about 4am, arrives at the bakery just before 6am and leaves at 9.30am to reach her first class at 10. Her science-based degree keeps her there until 5pm some days.

"It's tough, but I reckon everyone could do it if they just knuckled down and got on with it," she says. Her tutor does not agree. "When I had problems with my chemistry assignments in my first year, my tutor blamed my job. He did not tell me to give it up, but I could tell that he was not too happy. He doesn't know that I'm still working or how much I work now. But I have had no other problems since then."

Jennifer Currie

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