From education to employment

30% of students unable to secure part-time jobs due to poor university timetable

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Academic timetabling is affecting university students’ ability to secure part-time work as a survey of more than 1,000 UK students reveals a staggering seven in ten have considered dropping out of university. The rising cost of living is the leading reason (26 per cent) students gave for considering dropping out.

The research, conducted by Opinium in partnership with higher education ERP software provider TechnologyOne, showed the two key challenges to students having a job while they study are their academic workload beyond classes (44 per cent) and their university timetable (30 per cent). 

The data also revealed that a majority of students (57 per cent) said their mental health was adversely affected by their university class timetable. On the back of double-digit inflationary pressures, the research also showed:

  • More than seven in ten (72 per cent) students working part time said their study timetable got in the way of securing more hours at work;
  • One in three unemployed students who wished to work said they were unable to commit to a job because of scheduled classes;
  • Nearly one in three (30 per cent) students said their scheduled classes were getting in the way of their employment.

Speaking about the findings, Leo Hanna, UK Executive Vice President at TechnologyOne, said as the cost-of-living crisis continued to impact students, universities were at risk of a huge rise in dropout rates, impacting their financial viability and reputation.

“Our research also found nearly one in five students admitted to university contributed to their poor mental health – this is troubling for students and institutions. Universities themselves face growing administrative complexity, compounded by the rising cost of living and pressure to provide exceptional student experiences,” Mr Hanna said.

“We know the one thing that students care most about is their timetable. We also believe universities have a duty of care to their students. And nine in ten students agree universities should do more to help students get a job or secure more hours of paid work. One example might be making it easier for students to work around their studies through better class scheduling. This is where smart technology can step in, reducing the administrative burden to help institutions adapt to this evolving landscape.

“Poor timetabling affects more than just students. It also led to complaints from university staff dealing with lateness caused by classes being scheduled across campus from each other, and concerns about safety when secluded classrooms are booked late in the evening, for example.”

The research also shows students believed universities could do more to help them secure a job and/or more hours of paid work, by advertising job vacancies (30 per cent), allowing students to attend classes remotely, having consistent timetabling of classes over the academic year and allowing students to decide what day they attend classes (each 27 per cent).

TechnologyOne’s Timetabling and Scheduling solution, used by 50 per cent of universities in the UK, optimises timetabling, resource booking and exam scheduling to deliver an enhanced student experience and help maximise resources and efficiencies for universities.

John Latham, Vice-Chancellor at Coventry University, commented:

“With many conflicting demands put on academic resources, scheduling and effectively managing resources across multiple faculties and sites is incredibly intricate. The rising cost of living adds further complexity, and universities have not just a duty of care but an opportunity to support students through the ordeal with smart timetabling solutions.”

In guidance for institutions issued late last year, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) said: “Providers need to be clear what they mean by ‘full-time’ or ‘part-time’ study. It’s important to be clear about the teaching and learning opportunities that are delivered in person at specified times, and how much students can engage with more flexibly. This enables students to make an informed decision about their availability for work.”

“Changes made at short notice, in particular to timetabling, can be stressful and difficult to accommodate for students who need to work. When changes unavoidably have to be made at short notice, it’s important that providers take a flexible approach to reduce the impact on students with work or caring commitments.”

TechnologyOne partners with nearly 300 higher education institutions globally and works with more than 50 per cent of vocational and higher education institutions in the UK. For more information, visit

Additional survey data of note:

  • 42 per cent of students have 15 to 25 hours of scheduled classes every week, a further 23 per cent have more than 25 hours a week.
  • On average, students need to be available for scheduled classes, both online and in person four or more days a week.
  • Nearly eight in ten students (76 per cent) found it challenging to attend scheduled classes on time, citing classes scheduled at inconvenient times of the day, not having enough time to get from one class to another or not being able to find the lecture room or seminar location.
  • A majority of students (69 per cent) are happy with the split of online vs in-person classes they have scheduled this year. 16 per cent said they had too many online classes, 12 per cent said they had too many in person classes.
  • Further to the rising cost of living (26 per cent), other reasons given by students considering dropping out include: studies’ contribution to their poor mental health (18 per cent), their degree being too expensive for what they get (13 per cent) and missing home (12 per cent).
  • 53 per cent of students have a part time job alongside their studies. 32 per cent do not have a job but would like one and 5 per cent work full time.
  • Asked why they had a job, 52 per cent said to fund their basic lifestyle (pay for rent, utilities, food, etc.), 49 per cent said the rising cost of living meant they had to, and 33 per cent wanted to fund a comfortable lifestyle (pay for night outs, clothes, holidays, etc).
  • Since the start of the new academic term, 69 per cent of students have had to adjust their spending due to rising costs. Students largely cut back on eating out (54 per cent), nights out (50 per cent), clothes (41 per cent) and heating (36 per cent).
  • 83 per cent of students agree universities should do more to check support for students’ mental health.

About the Survey

The survey of 1,060 UK students was conducted by strategic insight firm Opinium during December 2022 and January 2023. The data was weighted to be representative of students in higher education.

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