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Students earning while learning

Most FE students have to earn as well as learn, a study commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills has revealed.

Some 13 per cent of full-time learners also have full-time jobs to help them finance their studies, which "represents a significant number with a combined work and study load", the report said.

The study found that 72 per cent of part-time learners and 57 per cent of full-time learners engage in paid work alongside their study.

The average monthly income of a full-time learner was pound;520, while a part-time learner earned pound;925 a month on average. However, nearly 40 per cent of full-time learners are struggling to cope financially, researchers found.

It discovered that 18 per cent said they were finding it very difficult to manage and a further 21 per cent said they were finding it quite difficult.

Just 5 per cent of part-time learners said they were finding it hard to cope and 11 per cent quite difficult.

However, of those who abandoned their FE courses before completion, just 6 per cent gave financial circumstances as the reason for quitting, the survey said.

The biggest reason why students give up was because they have difficulty balancing their learning with the job, accounting for 20 per cent of early leavers.

Some 8 per cent left because of a change of job or because they got a job, according to the research, which involved more than 4,000 telephone interviews.

The study was commissioned by the DfES to examine the financial circumstances of FE learners and was carried out by IFF Research. Its report said: "Employment is central to the experience of being a learner in further education, whether one is learning full time or part time."

Few took up study to enhance their employment opportunities. Among full-time learners, only 10 per cent see their learning as essential to their job, and 18 per cent see it as a way of improving.

For a third of full-timers, their learning and work lives are completely separate. The report added: "Given this profile of continued employment, it is perhaps surprising that fewer than two in five employed learners describe their learning as work-related."

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