Students stressed from work/study juggle, says Griffith study

More Australian students are working in part-time jobs than ever before, with potential negative effects to their study, health, and wellbeing.

This is the warning from Dr Michelle Hood from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, following a series of studies looking at how university students manage their study with other aspects of their lives.

With the results set to be further examined in 2018, the study researchers have already conducted surveys of over 1000 students who work from across Griffith University.

“Our results show that over 40 percent of full-time students are working 16 or more hours per week in paid jobs on top of a full time study load of 40 hours per week,” says Dr Hood.

More expensive to be a student now

“It would appear that money is a big concern for many students – sometimes bigger than their main role of being a student – and, of course, it is well documented how much more expensive it is to be a student now than in times gone by.

“In 1971 for example, we note that only 22 per cent of full-time students were in paid employment, but this has risen to near 80 per cent now”

“Massive increases in costs of being a student such as needing laptops, as well as cuts to student income support, have all combined over time to make the student life much more costly.”

Dr Hood says many students reported that their work and study roles are often in conflict with each other, with there often not being much time for anything else.

“For example, students say that the time at work may compete with the time that they are required to be on the university campus, or they may be worried about keeping their boss happy by taking on extra shifts when asked.

“It wasn’t always just about the hours but often about juggling the different demands of each situation. It seems that for many there may not be much recreational time for them to recover and this could bring about burnout.”

There were, however, positives to be found, says Dr Hood. “Apart from the money, there were many reported benefits of working while studying, with many stating that they gained time management and people skills, and some saying that they are able to study at work during quiet periods.”

The research findings are now set to be further investigated with a new study “Juggling priorities: How do tertiary students balance work and study?”

Aided by the award of a $373,903 Australian Research Council funding, the research will extend on this initial work to examine how students manage the boundaries between their work and study in order to reduce the conflict and optimise a broad range of academic, well-being and career related outcomes.

“From this work, we will be able to inform universities, as well as employers, about the risks for students juggling work and study so that they can implement appropriate interventions, training, and psychological services for vulnerable students,” says Dr Hood.