What’s the Best Way to Earn While You Learn? | Inspire to Freedom

What’s the Best Way to Earn While You Learn?

October 7, 2015 Jonny Lilley
classroom-2-1458645-639x426Photo by Gokhan Okur

You won’t need us to tell you that University is getting more and more expensive. The media has been full of it over the past few years: tuition fees can now be as high as £9,000 per year of your course! Whether you’re attending university right out of school or as a mature student later on in life, it’s never been quite so vital to be able to earn while you learn.

Making money while you study might be easier than you think. Even full time university courses are likely to give you plenty of free time to fit in paid work. The average number of contact hours across all subjects and universities in the UK is just 14 hours and 14 minutes per week. Certain subjects, such as science or law, are likely to involve a lot more time in classes than others, but that may just mean that you need to look for more work that offer more flexible hours.

So what options do you have for earning while you study?

Retail or hospitality part time job

This is often seen as the traditional option. For decades and decades students have been supplementing their income by taking evening and weekend work in their local shops, bars and restaurants. There is usually plenty of this type of work available, especially in the run up to the festive season. But of course, there are downsides. Retail and hospitality work isn’t always as flexible as students need and it offers limited earning potential.


When you get a job as a tutor it allows you to use your academic expertise to earn money. This often involves working with GCSE or A Level students to help them improve their skills. It can fit in well with studying at university as tutoring sessions tend to be held at weekends or in the early evening, once lectures are done for the day. The downside is that there’s a limit to how many sessions you can fit into the available time… and therefore how much you can earn.

Freelance work

If you have a useful skill, it’s likely there’s a market for you to capitalise on it. This option is particularly beneficial to mature students who have gone back to university after time in the industry. Taking on freelance work could allow you to make use of existing contacts and skills to fund your studies. The biggest benefit of freelance work to students is that it’s flexible: you can do as much or as little as you like depending on fluctuating university commitments. Your earning potential is also less fixed as you’re free to set your own rates depending on what clients are willing to pay.

Starting a business

Why wait until you graduate to start a business? University can be a great time to dip your toes into the pool of entrepreneurship. Not only are you likely to have more time to dedicate to a start up, you’re also going to be surrounded by a huge range of resources. When you start your own business you’ll be totally in control of how many hours you work and when you work them. You’ll also have more control over what you get paid… how does completely uncapped earning potential sound?! Even if you decide to go into more traditional employment when you graduate, the business experience and skills you’ll have gained in the meantime will be incredibly valuable.

Which option do you think is right for you? If you’re interested in the idea of starting a business, come to us for more inspiration.

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