Report highlights benefits of part-time study

Part-time students gain higher pay, new skills and greater responsibilities in the workplace even while they are studying, a new survey has found.

October 8, 2012

Research commissioned by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HESCU) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found 69 per cent of students said their part-time undergraduate course had improved both their confidence at work and their job performance.

Half said they were taking on more responsibilities, while 29 per cent of students received a pay increase, and 28 per cent a promotion.

Other advantages of part-time study reported by students include improvements to personal development (81 per cent) and self-confidence (70 per cent) as well as greater levels of happiness (55 per cent).

The study is based on interviews with 261 students in 2010-11, three years after they started their degrees.

It is part of the wider Futuretrack study which has monitored the progress of more than 50,000 students who entered higher education in 2006. The final report of this study will be published next month.

Jane Artess, director of research at HECSU, said the latest study confirmed the importance of part-time study.

"Part-time study is a very efficient way of raising and updating the skills of the existing workforce," she said. "It is essential that we continue to invest in developing employees to benefit the economy.

"Higher education policies need to support this rather than undermine it. The new availability of loans for part-time students is to be welcomed."

But Claire Callender, professor of higher education policy at Birkbeck College and the Institute of Education, both colleges of the University of London, who conducted the research with David Wilkinson, from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, believed many employers could be put off contributing towards the cost of educating their staff.

Twenty-seven per cent of students said their employers paid their full fees in 2007-8, which fell to 21 per cent for 2010-11.

From this autumn, part-time fees will be rise dramatically as they will be generally levied at a pro-rata basis of the full-time undergraduate fee, which is typically £9,000.

However, part-time students are now able to access student loans, which they will not pay back until they are earning more than £21,000 a year.

Professor Callender said: "We are concerned that some employers will not be able to continue to fund part-time study in the future and that this might restrict opportunities, particularly for students who want to re-skill or update their skills."

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