‘Focus Should Be on Studies’: More Students Prioritize Work Over Classroom Attendance

In Belgium, a growing number of students are finding themselves balancing the demands of work and education, driven by financial pressures exacerbated by rising costs of higher education.

A recent survey conducted by HR services provider Randstad sheds light on the evolving landscape of student employment, revealing significant shifts in student work patterns and their impact on academic life.

According to the survey, an overwhelming 84% of Belgian students aged 15 and above are engaged in some form of employment, marking a notable increase from previous years.

This trend reflects a preference among students to work throughout the year rather than confining their employment to summer breaks alone.

The flexibility of student jobs has allowed more than two-thirds of respondents to manage work alongside their studies, adapting to their academic schedules.

However, the survey also underscores a concerning trend: during crucial academic periods such as exams, a substantial portion of students—32%—reported working while preparing for exams, indicating a growing overlap between work and study responsibilities.

Even more alarmingly, 67% of students admitted to occasionally skipping classes to accommodate work commitments, highlighting the strain of balancing financial needs with academic obligations.

The regulatory landscape has adjusted to accommodate these trends, with recent changes allowing students to work up to 600 hours per year—a 125-hour increase from previous limits—without affecting parental benefits.

This adjustment has been met with mixed reactions; while 77% of students support the extended hours, concerns have been raised by stakeholders like Randstad about the potential impact on academic performance.

Wim Van der Linden, a spokesperson for Randstad, emphasized the need to prioritize studies amidst increasing work opportunities, suggesting that a delicate balance is crucial.

“The question arises whether this is desirable, as studies should obviously still be given priority,” he remarked, reflecting on the broader implications of extended working hours on educational outcomes.

Financial necessity remains a driving force behind the surge in student employment. With educational costs soaring—tuition fees surpassing €1,000 for the first time and living expenses escalating—many students find themselves compelled to contribute significantly to their own or their families’ finances.

The report by the Flemish Education Council (VLOR) highlighted a 20% increase in student expenses over the past three years, far outpacing adjustments in financial aid for low-income households.

The Belgian labor market’s shift towards flexibility has created more opportunities for student employment, yet it has also raised concerns about the long-term effects on academic achievement and student well-being.

Socialist trade union BBTK cautioned against excessive work hours, noting that for some students, 600 hours of work annually equates to nearly one-third of a full-time job, potentially compromising their ability to excel academically.

Despite these challenges, there remains a strong consensus among students for the continuation of extended work hours beyond the current regulatory timeframe.

The debate surrounding the balance between financial sustainability and educational priorities continues to evolve, with stakeholders advocating for policies that support both student employment and academic success.

As Belgium navigates these dynamics, the issue of student work-life balance remains at the forefront of educational and policy discussions, prompting calls for sustainable solutions that ensure students can thrive academically without sacrificing their financial stability.

In conclusion, while student employment in Belgium continues to grow as a necessary means of financial support, the conversation is increasingly focused on finding equitable solutions that safeguard both educational goals and economic needs in an evolving socio-economic landscape.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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