author: kristian ferguson | news editor
What does a living wage mean for students?
A few issues ago, the Carillon wrote an article on living wages in Saskatchewan. In the interim since that article was posted, Andrew Stevens, a professor here at the University of Regina in the Faculty of Business, contacted us. Stevens wrote a report entitled “Working for a Living Around the Ivory Tower,” a report about what a living wage could do for students and employees of the University of Regina. The report was also helped put onto the page with the help of the university’s very own RPIRG [Regina Public Interest Research Group] and the CRU [Community Research Unit].
The report delves into the nature of work in Saskatchewan and, most importantly, work for a living wage. 687 university members completed an electronic survey in order to help provide a statistical basis for the report. Those university members include students and faculty alike.
Regina’s living wage, right at the beginning of the report, is established as $16.46 an hour or around $58,000 a year for a family of four. In Saskatchewan, the people that earn under this living wage is significant, almost a quarter of the population.
Students, in particular, are affected by the lack of a living wage. Almost 60 per cent of students are employed for about 20 hours a week and a quarter of working students are employed full time, your author falls under the latter category. While this is not an uncommon thing to see or hear about in today’s day and age, the most significant statistic in the report is that over 50 per cent of students feel that their employment has a negative effect on their education.
On top of all of that work, both a job and education, many students still find themselves in a position where they have to pay for their education via debt. Forty-five per cent of students were reported as saying that they had a student loan or some other form of repayable debt.
This comes in stark contrast to the days of our parents who were able to afford to go to school on nothing more than a summer job.
While the idea of a living wage seems out of reach, it is in fact, very attainable. The report states, “Dozens of universities in the United States and the UK have become living wage universities, including Ivy League institutions.”
To the detractors and opponents of a living wage, the report states, “To date, there is no empirical evidence to substantiate the argument that living wages lead to catastrophic economic consequences.”
In a time of high financial stress, especially amongst students, the argument of a living wage is ever more appealing. There is no sign of a change in pay on the near horizon, but that does not mean that it isn’t an option at all.