Concerning Outcomes from Survey on Student Work


A study conducted by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, shows that despite this Government’s claim that unemployment is falling, students are continuing to find it difficult to find work to support them during their study. In addition, those students with jobs are finding it necessary to work longer hours in the absence of sufficient governmental support.

“Our last survey, in 2010, showed that 65% of students were in some form of regular paid work, down from 90% in 2007. While that fall has mostly stabilised, it is now at 63%, showing that the economic recovery has largely passed students by”, said Daniel Haines, President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations.

“Students in fulltime study are working over a longer period of time. Those students in work increased the number of weeks worked during the year from 21 to 25 weeks. This reflects the added pressure put onto students, given that that other available support has not been keeping pace with increased living costs. This is most obvious in accommodation where the support available has not increased since 2001, whereas rents have as much as doubled over that period.”

“Students in fulltime study are working more hours per week, up from an average of 12 hours per week to 14 hours. This is consistent with what teaching staff have been telling us – that students are tired and overworked, before they even get to class. Given that fulltime study is expected to consist of 48 hours per week of a combination of contact time and time doing class preparation, readings and assignments, it must be having an impact on students’ ability to succeed.”

“The increased work is reflected in increased earnings, up from $155 per week to $190 per week. However, taking into account the increased work hours, this suggests that the average student has experienced an increase in their hourly rate of just 50 cents over four years”, says Haines.

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) surveyed students from across New Zealand during the month of August asking them about their income, expenditure, assets and debts. The study, the largest of its kind and unique in that it has been ongoing for nearly 30 years, involved just under 5,000 student respondents from 11 campuses, and included those at both universities and polytechnics.


  • 63% of students are in some form of regular paid work.
  • The average number of weeks a fulltime student works has increased from 21 to 25 weeks since 2010.
  • The average number of hours worked has increased from 12 to 14.
  • The hourly rate students are receiving has increased just 50 cents in four years.

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The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations exists to advance the political, social and economic interests of tertiary students whatever they study and wherever they live. NZUSA is a membership body of local students' associatons. We believe in opportunity for all.

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