About the HWS Research Project

The need to balance work and study is important for Canadian university students who are engaging in term-time work in ever greater numbers. Our mixed methodology study examines undergraduates’ work-study patterns and effects over the course of their degrees.

We will compare the effects of different kinds of work for different groups of undergraduate students. Our focus on UBC and U of T, two research-intensive universities in high-cost cities in different parts of the country, will allow us to also consider the impacts of region and institution.

Our research questions are:
1) What are undergraduate students’ term-time work patterns and how do they vary?
2) How are students’ work experiences related to academic and other outcomes, including their grades, campus engagement, sense of well-being, and aspirations?
3) How do student experiences of work differ when that work is integrated into their studies (e.g., through internships, service learning)?
4) How do diverse groups of students make sense of their work-study transition experiences over time and what are the implications of these autobiographical narratives for policies?

The first phase of our study involved an online survey of undergraduates at UBC in early 2018. Phase 2 involves qualitative data collection at UBC and U of T to learn how students make sense of their work in relation to their studies. In this phase, student participants will engage in activities that are expected to be beneficial for their own development–including focus groups, life mapping, and audio diaries–as well as for the research.

This study aims to contribute to the academic literature on work-study relationships, student labour markets, and work-integrated learning. Equally important, it will contribute to policy discussions within university faculties and student services about how to better support working students and to provincial and national discussions about the regulation of student work.