BCM212 Research Proposal – How Does Working While Studying Affect Academic Performance?

This Subject has asked us to research a topic relating to the student experience. This topic is broad and has the potential to allow the exploration of many different aspects of the student experience. I intend to look at how paid work (part or full-time) affect university students academic performance.

I am interested in this topic as I am one of the students who is working part-time while studying and I am interested to see how students in similar situations to my own deal with balancing university and work.

I believe that this topic is relevant as shown in a 2018 ABC article (Gair, 2018) where a recent study is discussed. This study looks at the increasing costs of necessities such as food and textbooks for Australian students. The study found that 54% of students (Gair, 2018) had insufficient money for educational resources (eg. textbooks or other supplies) and 30% could at some point not afford accommodation (Gair, 2018).

(Gair, 2018)

This study shows that for a lot of students, especially those who live out of the home, working is key to allow students to be able to afford the basics, and take the stress off themselves, as discussed in the article (Gair, 2018). I believe that this topic is also timely as it is the beginning of a new semester and some of these costs have now either begun (eg. educational resources)  or increased (eg. transport) for students (Gair, 2018).

This project is achievable as there are many different students in the communication and media degree who work different jobs, have different employment styles and this would provide many perspectives on how working while studying affects academic performance, students in the discipline who do not work either while the semester is on or at all could be a good resource for comparison. It could be easy to make this research project broad and cover many of the reasons why employment is becoming more demanding for university students and the ways that academics and employment could change to better suit students, to make this project achievable, it should just focus on how employment affects students performance.


A study out of New Zealand titled, ‘The Effect of Paid Employment on University Students’ Lives’ (Manthei and Gilmore, 2005)  that looked at the effect of paid employment on students and the impact it has on not only their academic studies but also other aspects of their lives, found that 81 per cent of the students involved worked an average for 14 hours a week and spent the majority of their money earned on ‘essential living expenses’ (Manthei and Gilmore, 2005) and that working left them ‘less time for social activities, study and recreation’.(Manthei and Gilmore, 2005) While the study was limited too ‘young female students in arts courses’ this does help in my research as a majority of BCM students are also female so this could give an insight into what may come out of my own research. An interesting conclusion that the study drew was that working does not always impact a student’s academic life if their course load is manageable. It suggested that ‘lecturers should be more aware of students busy lives and try to structure assignments and schedule class times in a more flexible way'(Manthei and Gilmore, 2005).

While the New Zealand Study was done in 2005 there was a more recent study done in 2016 out of the US. This study titled, ‘Does work harm academic performance of students? Evidence using propensity score matching’  found that while their results looked at one school, the results were similar to the New Zealand study that students who did work and study where not affected if they were able to be flexible with their studies and attendance (Bartolj and Polanec, 2016).  However, students who were not able to do this, especially in the first year of study, had their marks affected buy at least 6.8 per cent if they worked more than 7 months during the school year (Bartolj and Polanec, 2016). Although it is noted that “For subsequent study years, the estimated effects are typically lower, with the exception of fourth year” (Bartolj and Polanec, 2016).

In summary, I believe that my chosen topic of ‘How Does Working While Studying Affect Academic Performance?’ is timely, relevant and achievable and it will also give some insight into not only BCM students but could also show what students in all disciplines experience when studying during university.




Bartolj, T. and Polanec, S. (2016). Does Work Harm Academic Performance of Students? Evidence Using Propensity Score Matching. SSRN Electronic Journal.

Gair, S. (2018). Balancing work and study is getting harder in Australia. [online] ABC. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/juggling-study-and-work-harder-than-5-years-ago/9335716 [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019].

Manthei, R. and Gilmore, A. (2005). The effect of paid employment on university students’ lives. Education + Training, 47(3), pp.202-215.

Featured Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s