The working student
The Vice-Chancvellor of the University of Melbourne in Australia, Professor Glyn Davis, recently wrote about some of the financial pressures on students. In Australia, he said, 44 per cent of students are also in employment of some sort or another while undertaking their studies.
In fact, some work done in Ireland has suggested that a remarkably large percentage of students doing full-time degree programmes are also working in jobs that are, statistically, counted as full-time jobs. The impact of this can be seen in class attendance, and no doubt also in the inability of some students to devote enough time to course work and revision.
As financial pressures increase this is unlikely to get much better, and it may be time for universities to review how they structure their courses. The assumption that students are available without competing pressures during what one might loosely call office hours is not necessarily a valid one any more, at least for some students. How this can be accommodated within higher education practice is now an issue that should be addressed. Otherwise we may face a system in which a major proportion of students is not properly engaged with the learning process.
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