Cut-price student days with mamma and papa

July 12, 2002

The high cost of university life throughout the world is pushing more students into term-time jobs. The THES reports on some enterprising ways to raise cash.

For Italy's students, the most substantial and widespread form of support remains the family. Financial support is meagre compared with the UK and other European countries.

In 2001, Italy provided only 123,868 scholarships out of a student population of 1.5 million to those who could prove their families were unable to provide enough support for them to maintain a reasonable academic standard.

Most Italian students enrol in a university close to home and continue to live with their parents.

According to statistics, 73 per cent of Italians aged between 15 and 30 live with their parents. The average age for "domestic independence" is 30.

Part-time university jobs for students are scarce. A programme to create part-time jobs has not been very successful, largely because of union opposition to "real" jobs being done by students. Only a few universities have managed to create a small number of very part-time jobs for students in libraries, laboratories or other services.

Students who really need money can be found working in bars, pubs, restaurants and night clubs. Many work in call centres or distribute advertising flyers. Many give private tuition to schoolchildren. Some deliver pizza or work as part-time postmen. Others work in holiday camps, and a few even pose as models for glamour and fashion magazines and calendars.

In addition, there are the "worker students", who combine a full-time job with their studies. During the student uprisings in the late 1960s, "worker students" were quasi-heroic figures battering down bourgeois authority in higher education.

Today, the revolutionary glamour has worn off and they are merely trying to make ends meet or, in many cases, getting a foot in the door of a profession before they graduate.

Term-time work is possible for students because in many faculties attendance at lectures is not compulsory, and a student can take as long as he or she likes to take exams. The average Italian student graduates at age 28, compared with the European average of 25.

Tommaso Agasisti, president of the National Council of University Students, said: "Students are still not considered the primary resource of the nation of tomorrow. With support the way it is today, it is clear that someone who is really economically underprivileged cannot embark on a university career with peace of mind.

"We need to at least double the amount of money being invested in support for students."

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