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University students juggle work and studies amid cost-of-living dilemma

Publish date: Mon, 27 Mar 2023, 09:07 AM

University student Ahmad Ameer is no stranger to the balancing act between studies and work. 

He began working part-time when he was in Form Four, holding down a job at a clothing store in the afternoons after school. 

Now a third-year student at Universiti Malaya, he is still working on the side, earning between RM900 and RM1,500 a month. 

Ahmad's family is not well-to-do, and he is familiar with the need to go the extra mile in order to manage all the bills. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, though, he said his observation was that more and more of his friends were also doing the same thing.

Some of them spend more time at work than they do at lectures, he added.

"Some work more than 30 hours a week," he said. "We could consider ourselves more workers than we are students.

"But we need to work to earn enough money to eat. If we don't work, we don't eat." 

R Rootra began working part-time after discovering that his mother was always in debt to other family members from whom she borrowed to give him pocket money at university. 

Rootra, from Segamat, Johor, said the money he receives from his student loan each semester is not enough to cover his expenses living on campus in the capital city. 
Most of the time, he is left with about RM1,000 for food and transportation costs after deducting the cost of fees, rental, internet and study-related necessities. 

"I bring food back from work because my employer pays for our lunch," he said. 

On social media, many others spoke about their financial struggles amid the rising cost of living. 

Some also shared their feelings of emotional pressure, saying they did not wish to put further financial strain on their families back home. 

Razali, whose son is a humanities student at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, said these were the struggles associated with becoming an adult in a rapidly developing city. 

"I get upset when people say don't spoil your children and give them too much money," he said. 

"They don't have any money of their own, surely you don't want them to starve."

For Razali and his friends, the fasting month allows them to save up and collect donations for the students on campus.  

"They can also break fast at the university mosque and bring back the leftovers for their pre-dawn meal," he said. 

Razali said the cost of living situation was a good lesson for his children on the reality of being an adult and building up a life for themselves. 

But he is also worried that the hardships of life will drive them to despair.

"I don't want them to feel like life is too hard, to the point where they forget the ambitions they once had."

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