Recent research from the National Education Opportunities Forum (NEON) found that poorer students are 20% more likely to opt to apply to study at a local university

Financial issues are leading to some students applying to universities they do not want to attend, to complete courses they have little interest in – illustrated by the fact that students are 20% more likely to apply to a local university if they are experiencing financial difficulties.

A solution often proposed is to work a job during term time, but traditional redbrick universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Cardiff look unfavourably on this. It is their belief that by working a job simultaneously to studying, students are not getting the most benefit from their studies.

So why is it important for students to go to the best university possible?

Average pay by the standard of education attained shows that those with a degree earn up to 85% more than those with GCSE’s – the difference between £8.68 per hour, and £16.10 per hour.

Studies undertaken found that while poorer students were more likely to study close to home, 45% of those who responded said they would choose a different course were fees capped at £6000, and a huge 60% said they would work less outside of university during term time if this were the case.

Further to this, it has been found that poorer students are also 20% more likely to drop out after two years of education than their more wealthy counterparts.

It is a sad truth that poorer students are more likely to look for paying jobs during term time. While more well off students may look for internships or work experience, those unable to give their time freely in the name of experience often find themselves lagging behind. Conversely, a common complaint among employers is a lack of ‘work ready’ graduates entering their hiring pools.

Financial difficulties should not be a barrier to a full and relevant education, and poorer students should not suffer as a result of their inability to take on unpaid work. There is, however, a huge demand among businesses for graduates with actual industry experience. The solution is simple – paid internships.

Offering relevant experience at a fair wage offers the employer an experienced worker with a good degree, while also levelling the playing field for graduates. The demand for graduate talent is undeniable, and for students to get the most out of their studies, they need a combination of both education and real-life experience.

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