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Employment and Tax

Work / study balance

Realistically many students will have to work to fund their education. We estimate that over 50% of students currently work part-time. These jobs will not only assist you financially whilst you study and reduce your debt on graduation, they will also help you to develop the skills and experience that graduate employers are looking for.  The good news is that in London there are plenty of opportunities for part time work, even in the current economic climate, but it is important that you manage your time, to ensure that they don’t adversely affect your academic studies.  

Opinion differs on the maximum number of hours a student should work a week, certainly more than 15 hours per week would have the potential to negatively impact your study whereas 7-12 hours a week could enhance your interpersonal skills and have a very positive impact on your study and graduate prospects.

The Guardian wrote a really useful article on this issue a few years ago and here are some practical suggestions to help you balance study and work commitments:

  • Be realistic about the number of hours you can do alongside your course, some courses will offer more free time than others, but you still need to set aside time for private study and assignments.
  • Always plan ahead. Try to anticipate busy periods on your course or at work and move things around to create a balance.
  • Make use of your diary – make sure you note all your shifts and upcoming assessments to make sure that you do not commit yourself to too much work when assignments are due. You may find that set shifts help you to focus your time more effectively but this may not be possible if your course timetable is subject to change.
  • Be honest with your employer, don’t commit yourself to hours that you cannot work - employers will be more sympathetic if you advise them as soon as you can that you have other commitments, this will help them to organise their rota’s with you in mind (where reasonably possible).
  • Don’t miss lectures/seminars in order to work; this will affect your overall performance on the programme. Remember your first priority is the course as that is why you are here!
  • If you are struggling seek advice and support from your personal tutor and the Student Advice Service. Your tutor may be able to advise you on how to catch up with the course and the Student Adviser can work with you to find a way to manage your finances.
  •  Don’t forget to RELAX. Always allow time for leisure activities – if you are constantly working or studying you will grow to resent both your course and your job.
  • Be realistic about what you can fit in. Remember there are only 24 hours in a day. Don’t over promise then under deliver.
  • Try to cut back on part time work during exam times. Work might provide you with a welcome relief from your study but try to organise some time off before exams and don’t feel compelled to agree to overtime around this time.
  • Remember to talk about how you managed your time while working and studying at job interviews. Employers will be impressed to hear how you achieved this and it can demonstrate your organisational and time management skills
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