Low pay blights Scots students

October 17, 1997

LOW pay is endemic among Scottish students, with part-time work severely disrupting their education, according to a new study published by the Scottish Low Pay Unit.

The study argues that rather than students being excluded from a national minimum wage, as has been recently suggested, they need more protection from exploitative employers.

Newman Smith, a sociology lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, and Phil Taylor, a lecturer in human resource management at Stirling University, surveyed all third-years at GCU, producing a detailed local analysis to complement broad-brush national studies.

They found that more than 77 per cent worked part-time, with almost 20 per cent holding down two part-time jobs. The average hourly rate was Pounds 3.71, with almost 90 per cent earning less than the Scottish Low Pay Unit's minimum wage target of Pounds 4.42.

Students worked for an average of almost 15.5 hours a week, with 26 per cent working more than 20 hours, and more than one in 20 working more than 30 hours, the equivalent of a full-time job. Almost half worked in shops, with the next largest group working in hotels, pubs and clubs.

The vast majority, 72 per cent, said they were working because of financial necessity or hardship, while only 9 per cent thought it was good for their cv. Almost four-fifths said it adversely affected their academic work, with 63 per cent saying they had missed lectures, and per cent missing laboratory work.

Dr Smith said that although the students earned on average Pounds 57 a week, they had little choice but to accept "these meagre amounts", since they were essential for them to carry on studying.

The study says a minimum hourly wage of Pounds 4.42 would mean almost 90 per cent of students surveyed receiving "modest, but relatively speaking, quite considerable pay rises".

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