How does Term-time Paid Work Affect Higher Education Students’ Studies, and What can be Done to Minimise any Negative Effects?


  • Iain Peter McGregor Edinburgh Napier University



Undergraduate students, term-time paid work, academic support, online delivery, health issues


This study aims to investigate the effects of term-time paid work on undergraduate students’ studies and what can be done to minimise any negative effects. Two studies were conducted; the first to establish the extent of students taking on paid work during term time, the impact it had on their studies and how they would like to be academically supported. The second study addressed students’ preferred methods of support, specifically seeking to establish guidelines about optimal methods. Almost two thirds of students within the study work during term time, with an average work commitment of 16 hours. Over two thirds of working students felt that their studies had been negatively affected by their paid work, whilst just over half of the students reported that their physical health had been affected, with just under a half describing mental health issues associated with working whilst studying. Over half the students thought that pre-recorded lectures would be the most suitable method of academic support and that the optimum length should be 60 minutes. In addition, a number of other asynchronous methods were identified. The results suggest that it is possible to support students more during their studies, and that the solutions are relatively simple. There is no suggestion that the methods of support will lessen the negative effects of working while studying, but they can be used to provide what students think might assist them to balance paid work and studying during term time. This study might be of interest to those supporting other groups of students who may require support with their studies, such as those with health issues, disabilities or care responsibilities.

Author Biography

Iain Peter McGregor, Edinburgh Napier University

School of Computing, Lecturer


Anderson, M. J. (2006). Degree of fit: University students in paid employment, service delivery and technology. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 22(1), 88.

Barron, P., & Anastasiadou, C. (2009). Student part-time employment: Implications, challenges and opportunities for higher education. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 21(2), 140–153.


Blasko, Z., Brennan, J., Little, B., & Shah, T. (2002). Access to what? Analysis of factors determining graduate employability. A report to the HEFCE (Centre for Higher Education Research and Employment, Trans.). London: Open University.

Bradley, J. (2014, 15 November). 61% of students work during term time – survey. Retrieved 11 February 2015 from

Brennan, J., Duaso, A., Little, B., Callender, C., & Van Dyke, R. (2005). Survey of higher education students’ attitudes to debt and term-time working and their impact on attainment. Centre of Higher Education Research and Information and London South Bank University.

Broadbridge, A., & Swanson, V. (2005). Earning and learning: How term-time employment impacts on students' adjustment to university life. Journal of Education and Work, 18(2), 235–249.


Callender, C. (2008). The impact of term-time employment on higher education students’ academic attainment and achievement. Journal of Education Policy, 23(4), 359–377.


Carney, C., McNeish, S., & McColl, J. (2005). The impact of part-time employment on students' health and academic performance: A Scottish perspective. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 29(4), 307–319.


Cubie, A. (1999). Student finance: Fairness for the future – Report of the Independent Committee of Inquiry into Student Finance. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Curtis, S. (2005). Support for working undergraduates: The view of academic staff. Education + Training, 47(7), 496–505.

Curtis, S. (2007). Students' perceptions of the effects of term-time paid employment. Education + Training, 49(5), 380–390.

Curtis, S., & Shani, N. (2002). The effect of taking paid employment during term-time on students' academic studies. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 26(2), 129–138.


Evans, C., Gbadamosi, G., & Richardson, M. (2014). Flexibility, compromise and opportunity: Students' perceptions of balancing part-time work with a full-time business degree. The International Journal of Management Education, 12(2), 80–90.


Garrouste, C. L., & Rodrigues, M. (2013). Employability of young graduates in Europe. International Journal of Manpower, 35(4), 425–447.

Gil, N. (2014, 11 August). One in seven students work full-time while they study. Retrieved 20 February 2015 from

Greenbank, P., Hepworth, S., & Mercer, J. (2009). Term-time employment and the student experience. Education + Training, 51(1), 43–55.

Hall, R. (2010). The work–study relationship: Experiences of full-time university students undertaking part-time employment. Journal of Education and Work, 23(5), 439–449.


Hunt, A., Lincoln, I., & Walker, A. (2004). Term-time employment and academic attainment: Evidence from a large-scale survey of undergraduates at Northumbria University. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 28(1), 3–18.


Little, B. (2002). UK institutional responses to undergraduates' term-time working. Higher Education, 44(3–4), 349–360.


Metcalf, H. (2003). Increasing Inequality in Higher Education: The role of term-time working. Oxford Review of Education, 29(3), 315.


Miller, K., Danner, F., & Staten, R. (2008). Relationship of work hours with selected health behaviors and academic progress among a college student cohort. Journal of American College Health, 56(6), 675–679.


Moreau, M.-P., & Leathwood, C. (2006). Balancing paid work and studies: Working (-class) students in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 31(1), 23–42.


Mounsey, R., Vandhey, M. A., & Diekhoff, G. M. (2013). Working and non-working university students: Anxiety, depression, and grade point average. College Student Journal, 47(2).

Richardson, M., Evans, C., & Gbadamosi, G. (2014). The work–study nexus: The challenges of balancing full-time business degree study with a part-time job. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 19(3), 302–309.


Richmond, L. (2013, 02 September). Student part-time work increases. Retrieved 20 February 2015 from

Roberts, R., Golding, J., Towell, T., Reid, S., Woodford, S., Vetere, A., & Weinreb, I. (2000). Mental and physical health in students: The role of economic circumstances. British Journal of Health Psychology, 5(3), 289–297.


Robotham, D. (2009). Combining study and employment: A step too far? Education+Training, 51(4), 322–332.

Trowler, P. R. (1998). Academics responding to change. New higher education frameworks and academic cultures. Buckingham, UK: ERIC.

UKCISA. (2014, 20 November). How many hours a week can I work? Retrieved 11 February 2015 from

Watts, C., & Pickering, A. (2000). Pay as you learn: Student employment and academic progress. Education + Training, 42(3), 129–134.







Original Research