Writing up on the dole

Jim Ewing, NPC Scotland vice chair tells us about writing up students financial struggles.

Research is work. Non-remunerative, but still work. The researcher attempts something new, or at least to clear the ground for what follows, with benefits often intangible and frequently non-quantifiable, yet incontrovertibly real.

Writing-up research students can claim Jobseekers Allowance once no longer under tuition and available for work; a cushy six-months, it may seem, but insufficient for many who have to sacrifice valuable research time for extra income - only to find their Jobseekers Allowance cut.

This is an especial disincentive for writing-up students: more than twenty hours per week salaried work compromises research, yet any fewer may pay insufficient. This can affect the quality of work submitted and delay submission time; and, if the researcher is working less than 16 hours per week, actually prolong the time the Social pays their N.I. contributions.

Certain employers require part-time labour and not all part-time jobs combine easily, making the part-time worker a socio-economic necessity. Writing-up research students could meet this need, but not if their earnings are unfairly deducted from what they are meant to live on while finishing their real, full-time work of writing up theses.

Writing-up students are working towards full-time employment which will hopefully pay back in income tax what theyve claimed in less time than it took to claim it - so the sooner they write up, the better. Letting them work, say, up to the 15 hour threshold, without affecting their claims would get more off the dole sooner and contribute towards the better-qualified workforce the Government is supposed to be so desperate to engineer.