Part-time Employment and Effects on Australian Social Work Students: A Report on a National Study

Topics: University, Student, Education Pages: 1 (282 words) Published: October 3, 2014
University students, nationally as well as internationally, engage in employment to supplement income while studying. Social work students are no different in this respect. There have long been questions about whether such part-time work has an adverse impact on student academic performance. This paper explored the experiences of social work students enrolled on-campus across three Australian universities as reported through a survey and focus groups. The research found that social work students did engage in significant amounts of paid employment while studying, that there were both positives and negatives for students depending on the nature of their employment, and that compromises needed to be made in juggling competing responsibilities. Accessing and living on inadequate government benefits imposed particular stressors. The findings have implications for the ways in which social work education is structured, especially in terms of flexibility, and demonstrated that part-time work also offers opportunities for student learning.

Recent Australian Commonwealth Governments have made it increasingly difficult for students to qualify for income support through the imposition of stringent eligibility criteria for benefits such as Youth Allowance, Austudy, and Abstudy. Both limited access and inadequate levels of benefit, which are 2039% below the poverty line, mean that many students experience significant financial hardship (Australian Senate, 2004; Grant, Maccorone, Sagorski, & Siiankoski, 2004; La Trobe University, 2000; Newton & Turale, 2000). Findings from the 2006 Australian University Student Finances Survey (AUSFS) identified the ‘‘stressful financial situations’’ experienced by many university students and the difficulties they faced in ‘‘support(ing) themselves from week-to-week’’, and an even larger proportion of students who were anxious about ‘‘making ends meet’’ and their accumulation of debts (James, Bexley, Devlin, & Marginson, 2007, p. 2)....
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