A third of uni students regularly miss class for work: study

UNIVERSITY students struggling to make ends meet are being forced to take on part-time jobs, with the increased demands on their time adversely affecting their academic performance.

Professor Sarah Harding, the new chair of Universities Australia, will reveal this and other highlights from a new survey of more than 11,500 students when she addresses the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

The survey, from the soon-to-be-released Universities Australia Study of University Student Finances in Australia in 2012, found more than 80% of full time undergraduates had to take on a job to support themselves last year and worked on average 16 hours a week during semesters.

A third of students surveyed said they regularly missed classes because of work commitments, while 17% said they regularly went without food or other necessities.

Prof Harding will use her speech to make the point students already struggling financially will be under increased pressure from the $2.8 billion in cuts to student programs in next week's budget.

The cuts, including a cap on tax deductions for self-education expenses, will only serve to diminish the Federal Government's efforts to support significant growth in student enrolments in universities in recent years, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, Prof Harding will argue.

She will also outline two potential futures for Australia - a "best of times" outlook where tertiary education is adequately financed to secure new jobs and new industries and a "worst of times" where students, academics and researchers are squeezed and innovation and productivity suffer.

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