Changing Student Lifestyle

The changing age make up of the student body has driven changes in social demand and participation. Debt remains a major issue for students, which means that over 75% of all students undertake some form of paid employment, working on average 14 hours per week (although younger students tend to rely more on student loans for living costs). The added time pressure of working longer hours, plus a developing consumerist attitude amongst students studying has led some unions to see a decline in participation in traditional activities. In addition to these lifestyle changes, students are more concerned with sustainability and ethical purchasing than the general populous.

What are the implications?

  • Services not being relevant to the make up of your student membership and a further decline on a local and national level may occur.
  • Less of a balance between academic and paid work leading to students needing support or advice.
  • Possible further decline in traditional activities, eroding a key involvement base. This could further damage the legitimacy of students’ unions in the eyes of stakeholders.
  • If students’ unions fail to take a lead on ethical purchasing and environmental issues they could find themselves at odds with their own memberships.

Moving forward

  • Do you currently provide opportunities for student employment in your own services and have you considered running a jobshop?
  • Are your involvement structures as agile and free of bureaucracy as possible, attracting as many students as possible.
  • How do you influence the provision of funds for student hardship and provide advice to students on academic issues?
  • Do you take part in environmental auditing programmes and look at purchasing ethically?
Last updated at 16:26 Mon 19/Oct/09.

Discuss

How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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