Classic August survey

This piece in today’s Guardian starts off sensibly enough:

Fewer undergraduates take jobs to help fund their studies

…and shows some reasonably sensible-looking data which suggests that the number of students working in term time has dropped as have the hours worked.

But then they tell you some other numbers:

A survey of 2,700 full-time students at 70 universities across Britain found that the proportion working had fallen for the first time since the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) began compiling its student living index in 2004. The hours worked also fell.

OK, it is actually fewer than 40 students per university we are talking about – fine while we are at the aggregate level I suppose…but hang on:

The bank’s index ranked university towns by calculating average local weekly spending on accommodation and other living expenses, and then dividing it by the average weekly income for working students. Leeds was the most affordable, followed by Brighton, Dundee and London. Nottingham came out worst.

Working students = 41% of 39 students = around 16 students per institution. And on this basis we get a result where Nottingham appears to be the least affordable city for students in the UK. This seems to raise questions about sample size and also about all those other towns and cities where students live which were not covered by the 70 institutions sampled.

OK, it’s August silly season stuff (as another story in the Guardian confirms) but doesn’t mean you can’t get all grumpy about this kind of thing.

2 thoughts on “Classic August survey

  1. With apologies to Disraeli, there are lies, damned lies and surveys. And this one is a case in point – unfortunately for RBS what I choose to spend is not the same as the cost of living and what I earn by taking on part time work is not the same as my income. The only reasonable conclusion that we can draw from the data is that students in Nottingham spend rather more than those in Leeds and do less part-time work – presumably leaving more time for University work and for leisure! So, I could conclude (but I won’t because I haven’t got enough evidence) that Nottingham tops the league table for fun – less time spent in mundane part-time work and more time available for doing the things that students should do!

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