Hi-tech, high-cost days kill social life

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.

The Danish state education grant system has built-in buffers that allow students to earn up to DKr5,383 (£460) a month in part-time or casual work. If they earn more than DKr64,596 a year, they must repay some of their grant. About one-third of university students earn more than DKr50,000 a year on top of the grant.

"Living in Copenhagen, you simply must have a job to pay the rent," said a 22-year-old first-year student at Roskilde University Centre, 28km west of the Danish capital.

Spending half of the monthly state education grant of DKr4,231 on accommodation, plus books and transport, does not leave much for food or social activities. A computer and telephone and internet subscriptions, which are important for group work and research, must also be paid for.

Students have a wide range of jobs on offer, from casual labour that no one else wants to highly skilled work. They typically work ten to 15 hours a week in jobs as cleaners, office assistants with ministries or businesses, waiters at fast-food restaurants and workers for internet service providers or business newswires and travel authorities' passenger help-desks. Some students assist tutors in research projects.

They are flexible jobs, with few hours, that cannot provide a living wage for most people.

Jakob Lange, head of the universities' coordinated enrolment system, said:

"There's a need for a general set of rules to govern students in the labour market while taking the grant regulations about working income into account.

"The rules should also ensure that students have a right to take time off for studies, exams and so on. This will help students finish their studies more quickly, although they will be less flexible as a workforce."

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