Like many other students, I have a part time job to fund my living expenses whilst at university. Like many other students, this job is not the career path I want to pursue, but it pays the bills.
The University of Glasgow have advertised a job for the role of “Student Social Media Officer” which offers students a chance to “create, enhance and contribute to social media”. The job contract is for two years with a salary of £250 per annum, and requires its employee to be on top of all Glasgow University’s social media accounts, write six blogs about their student experience, develop a student ‘News’ monthly recap, and attend meetings alongside various other conditions. This would all be fine and well if the job offered wasn’t comparable to an unpaid internship. When you break the annual salary down, the weekly wage comes down to approximately £4.80 – enough for the lucky recipient to splash out once a week and treat themselves to a meal deal. The classification of this role as a ‘job’ is utterly disgraceful on the part of our university.
You could be of the belief that this is an incentive aimed at improving the employability and CV of a student, but in the current economic climate, many students will face a daily choice of heating or a hot meal. Although Glasgow University houses many students from privileged backgrounds, it often disregards those who receive no financial help from their parents and still have to pay the extortionate rent of flats in the West End, or of student accommodation that their loan simply cannot cover. If the amount of pay offered for this position wasn’t offensive enough, the incentive of gaining so-called “student swag” to spruce up your CV seems to be the furthest thing from a benefit imaginable – something the University have classed as a perk of the job.
Yet, this is all comparable to the current cycle many young people find themselves in. Because they have no experience to attain an employment position suitable to their degree, they find themselves accepting unpaid internships to gain that experience, or jobs with very little pay. Earlier this year, I worked as a part time copywriter a few hours a day and this provided me with a reasonable amount of financial aid. Another employee at this firm was a graduate from the University of Dundee on the same pay, but working 9am-5pm shifts, Monday to Friday. Her pay was so low for a graduate job that one full day’s pay would fund her weekly train transport. As well as this, the stress of needing a job to survive but feeling like she was getting nowhere started to impact her mental health. Arguably, you could say that Glasgow University is only doing what society has deemed acceptable – but as an educational institution, it must look to its own virtues of propelling world changers and assisting its students before deciding to advertise a “job” with a £250 annual salary.
As one of the richest European Universities, and indeed institutions, it seems pitiful that £500 at the end of a 2-year contract can even be considered a “job”. The way it is advertised would make it seem like the role consists of only a few monthly duties, however when you step back and consider the maintenance of constantly having to update several social media accounts (on top of the other duties required in the job description), you soon realise that the job advertised requires daily work – a factor distracting from the very point of being at university, to study. The university has further classed this job as a “paid scholarship position”. Awarding it with the phrase
“scholarship” would imply that something beneficial to one’s education was to be obtained. However, as far as I am aware, the only real benefit is the training offered by the University’s social media team.
This “job” is not about aiding students with their finances or education; it reflects the growing issues in society that trap it's up and coming generations from achieving their full potential.