Students' term-time employment: the view of academic staff
Department of Business and Management Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University
Crewe + Alsager Faculty, Crewe Green Road, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 5DU
Tel. 0161 247 5238
Presented at the Higher Education Close Up Conference 2, Lancaster University, 16-18 July 2001.
This paper argues that there are considerable possibilities for the support of full-time undergraduates who take paid employment during term-time. The paper suggests that the current situation, in one Faculty of a large university, is unsystematic and there is a lack of awareness amongst academic staff that students are combining work with study. The paper argues that although there is no official policy on support for working students, and that the university could be providing more support, but also that there are considerable constraints on the institution doing so. There is national concern about student numbers, all universities appear to be enthusiastic to recruit more students and to retain those already registered. This case study reveals an uncomfortable picture of staff and the institution being largely out of touch with the student body, their needs, concerns and opinions of the service they are receiving. The opposing stance is one which may be equally valid, that the institution is in the business of delivering higher education and should not be diluting this with services which could be obtained elsewhere. All universities face increasing staff/student ratios which means a greater pressure on staff time. At the same time there is more emphasis on research and administration which means that staff are often unavailable to students and feel pressured and stressed in their work. Students also are suffering higher levels of stress due to the juggling of two roles, concerns about assignments and financial problems. The support which could be given to working students needs a policy and support from the most senior level within the university. Doing nothing will mean an even greater drift away from our customers in years to come with a potential threat to retention and recruitment. An awareness amongst staff that support is a possibility will go a long way to helping the students and also lecturers in bridging a widening gulf between themselves and their clients.