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Corona pandemic: these are the problems students have to struggle with

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The corona pandemic has put many in an unusual and often difficult situation. Students are particularly affected. Lectures only take place online, fellow students are nothing more than little avatars on the screen. And students who only started in the corona year don’t know the others in their year at all.

Financial problems also exacerbate the already stressful situation. While permanent employees were mostly sent on short-time work, it was mainly 450 euro jobbers and working students who lost their jobs. In the 2020 summer semester, only 53.2 percent of students had a part-time job – around ten percent less than in the previous year. This was the result of a survey of the study series “Fachkraft 2030”, which has been carried out for several years by the Studitemps recruitment agency among 28,000 students across Germany. In 2017, 71.1 percent of those surveyed stated that they worked alongside the university.

The difference between East and West Germany is interesting: While there were only three percent fewer students in the new federal states who had a job than in 2019, the difference in the old federal states was eleven percent.

“This could be related to the fact that Saxony had one of the lowest numbers of infected people in the summer and more was allowed, such as smaller concerts or company and club celebrations,” says Eckhard Köhn, CEO of Studitemps.

Students from academic households were more likely to keep their jobs

In the development of the hourly wage, the surveyors were unable to identify either stagnation or decline between September 2019 and 2020, but a comparatively small increase of just 20 cents. This is the smallest increase since the study series began in 2012. In the years before the corona pandemic, hourly wages at weddings grew by almost six percent.

What is also noticeable: Students from academic households were more likely to keep their part-time jobs or find a new one than students whose parents do not have a university degree. In addition, they received an average of more hourly wages (11.89 euros to 11.57 euros).

According to Köhn, this may be due to the fact that students whose parents are also academics are more likely to look for related part-time jobs. “That is good news for this group,” says the CEO. But it also shows that the offspring benefit significantly from their parents. That is why networking offers are particularly important for students who come from working-class families.

On the other hand, it is encouraging that the gender pay gap appears to be closing further. While in 2019 female students received 4.5 percent less per working hour, the difference in 2020 was only 1.4 percent.

Despite job loss: Students have higher average incomes

Paradoxically, despite the Corona crisis and the loss of jobs, the average income of students has increased, from 847 euros per month to 859 euros. That corresponds to a plus of 12 euros. Financial losses as a result of the pandemic could therefore not be determined.

According to Köhn, it was observed that on average fewer students got money from part-time jobs or from their parents’ home. However, those who continued to receive support from their parents or who worked alongside their studies generated even more money from these sources than in the previous year.

The budget from loans or savings has also increased. And according to the survey, the monthly payment of the BaföG has also increased – instead of 471 euros per month, students now receive 576 euros per month.

Köhn sees a clear trend: “The sources of money that are still available to students are being used to a greater extent.” This would compensate for losses elsewhere. “Less support from parents, for example, has to be offset by more work.” This is also evident in the figures on the job platform operated by Studitemps. According to their own information, significantly more students registered there in summer 2020 than is normally the case. “In some cases we had an increase of 57 percent,” says Köhn.

Rising expenses for rent and technical equipment

It is also necessary that the students have a good income despite the Corona crisis. Because the average expenses have also increased. Among other things, the cost of studying has increased – by 26.43 percent. According to Köhn, the reasons for this are possibly additional costs for technical equipment or a better internet connection.

The rental costs for students have also risen – per square meter they paid an average of 13.54 euros in the summer semester 2020, which corresponds to an increase of eight percent compared to the previous year. In addition to curfews, the absence of part-time jobs and the lack of face-to-face events, the rising rents are probably also a reason why around one in four students lived with their parents in the 2020 summer semester. For comparison: in 2019 it was only 21.4 percent. According to this, around 17 percent more live in their parents’ house, which affects around 100,000 university students.

The eight percent increase in rental expenses cannot be exclusively attributed to the fact that rents have increased, according to Köhn. It also results from the fact that the students have moved into smaller apartments. The survey shows that the prospective academics lived on average in 2020 on around one square meter less than in 2019. The total rent in smaller apartments is cheaper, but the price per square meter is higher. “Overall, however, the increase in rent is simply an additional burden for the students, who are already struggling, and therefore shows little solidarity,” says Köhn.

In general, the summer last year was still quite light. The number of infections was low – shops and bars were largely open. In November it went into lockdown light, in December it went into hard lockdown again. For several weeks now, restaurants, fitness studios and retail stores have been closed again, with a few exceptions. Köhn therefore assumes that the situation for students has worsened again significantly for students since the survey in summer 2020.

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