Student enterprise?

Here’s an odd news item: apparently last month the police were called to a student residence in the University of Arkansas, as neighbours had complained that a group of students had ‘reptiles and marijuana’. There wasn’t any marijuana, but yes, plenty of reptiles:  an alligator, a rattlesnake, six pythons and three chameleons. It seems the students in question had started quite a neat business, acquiring free reptiles on the internet and selling them on.

Just in case anyone gets any ideas, we are going to keep our eyes open in DCU to ensure there are no signs of reptiles in the residences. But there is a serious point here about how students get the means to maintain themselves while studying. A few years ago an informal survey revealed that a significant percentage of students were engaged in what would technically be considered full-time employment. This had significant implications for student attendance at classes; and there were occasional suspicions that the money so earned was not always paying for daily necessities and study materials.

Of course it has now become much more difficult for students to find such employment. Furthermore, the assumption that was still normal when I was a student – that parents paid for their children’s living expenses while they were students – cannot be taken as normal now.  So as we continue to look at ways in which higher education can be paid for, and as student contributions (whether in the form of tuition fees or other forms of payments or loans) are considered, we need also to assess how student living expenses and educational materials can be funded. Employment or entrepreneurial activities can be part of any model, but this needs to be compatible with their educational tasks and responsibilities.

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9 Comments on “Student enterprise?”

  1. Vincent Says:

    Do you mind me asking, but has any of the Seven done any studies on costs with a sample that might have some validity on this question.
    If this survey was done once a month and on everything except names there would be some sort of baseline.
    For if Galway is anything to go by, base costs and overall inflation for the rest of the State has very little to do with the lives of students. And in Galway what is very nasty is the relationship between those working at the College that are also student landlords.
    Also, why on earth do you the University Admin not cut the County Councils out of the Grant entirely. How many levels of admin. For each euro handed to a student there must be another four absorbed.


  2. Back in my day, now twenty years gone, whether it was wise or not, a $5 cover charge at many bars on Friday and Saturday night got you unlimited (bad) beer from tiny plastic cups, lined up on the bar by the hundreds.

    Their size had something to do with Florida liquor laws, but also helped curb binge drinking. After all, if you have to go and pick up your beer by the handful-ounce every few minutes, you quickly find it is more interesting to stay talking with your friends or that cute co-ed you just met.

    I wonder how the existence of such a scheme would impact the cost of a university degree here in Ireland?

    My point? Many of us had part-time jobs to pay for our tuition and cost-of-living, but we were spending only a few dollars a night out, rather than the pipeline drinking of six to twelve ~5.50 Euro beers (that’s nearly $8 folks! that’s the cost of a six pack!) then a taxi home, if you still have the dosh.

    Moreover, we considered our studies equivalent to a full-time job. Classes started at 8am (!) and actually were scheduled early on Monday and late on Friday, ran into the evenings, there were night classes, Summer classes, and your homework and studying would keep you up every night late.

    How many of these facets exist here, in the 21st century?

  3. kevin denny Says:

    There are a handful of studies that look at whether student employment has an effect on their academic outcomes looking at both 2nd and 3rd level. Most of the studies are for the US and Canada. Happy to post the references.
    The evidence is pretty mixed in that while there is some evidence of a negative effect on grades it is by no means uniform and there is some evidence that it actually benefits students. It depends on the margin you are looking at: some students couldn’t afford college without a job.
    The problem when studying this is that the students who take jobs may be different in ways we don’t observe from those who do not (e.g. they may be more motivated) so its tricky to know whats causing what.

    • iainmacl Says:

      there are other studies in the UK as well which seem to imply that a small number of hours worked can be beneficial (although that probably correlates with well-organised people who are good at scheduling hours for study as well as work) but larger number of hours is seriously detrimental to grades, performance overall, attendance, etc. The threshold number of hours per week is actually quite low. In other words work more than a few hours and you’ll potentially have problems. Certainly you couldn’t work the appropriate number of hours to pay for your full living costs never mind your fees. So work, debt, low grades and risk of dropout are linked.

  4. Jilly Says:

    “It seems the students in question had started quite a neat business, acquiring free reptiles on the internet and selling them on.”

    Free reptiles on the internet?! I spend a reasonable amount of time online, but I’m clearly visiting the wrong sites, because no-one’s ever offered me a free reptile…

    • Aoife Citizen Says:

      I can’t believe I got suck into that: I just spent half-an-hour looking through mid-western US craigslists to prove you wrong, but failed, it seems reptile can be cheap, very cheap, 40 USD cheap, but never free! Well strictly speaking there are free reptiles, turtles are often free, but not snakes or lizards.

      • Jilly Says:

        Sorry Aoife, that’s 30 minutes you’ll never get back! Still, I’m grateful to know that you can get free turtles, that was news to me.

  5. Aoife Citizen Says:

    @jilly: even in Dublin you can get free Turtles:

    http://www.gumtree.ie/dublin/89/48684889.html


  6. […] VonPrond on Student “Enterprise”. This raised a few questions for me. He notes that many students would be engaged in would could technically be called full-time employment. I worked about 30 hours a week while in college, I think, taking in freelancing and part-time working. I then quit part-time working (in Debenhams, oh, the glamour) and struggled freelancing for a while before taking two (unpaid) internships which led to reliable freelance work (for the time being). I should still be in college now, actually, but deferred the last year. […]


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