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Students have never before worked as much as in the year 2012 2013-05-15

Never before have students worked as much as throughout 2012. The importance of student work has risen in 2012 by 16%, compared to 2011, in order to attain almost 9 million days, as it appears from the statistics of the National Social Security Office (NSSO). Moreover students are constantly to a lesser extent dependent upon a particular season: a growing number of students is working throughout the whole year.

Strongest rise of the past years

In all roughly 450,000 working students (+- 45% male and - 55% female students) have been employed in Belgium during the year 2012. They have in total worked 8.9 million days, which is a rise by 16% compared to 2011. This is the strongest increase of the past years.

Yearly growth of student work

Yearly growth of student work (2009 - 2012)

On average almost 20 days

The number of working students has also increased in 2012 (+ 3.2%), which is a trend that is already perceptible since a number of years. Nevertheless the increase of the total number of days worked is not only to be attributed to this trend. Indeed a working student is working more days, since the average number of days worked per working student has risen to 19.8, which is an increase of 12.4%. This increase is particularly more important than during the past years (+ 1.7% in the years 2010 and 2011).

Where does this increase come from?

There are different explanations for the strong rise in the number of registered days of student work.

  • First of all the figures show the effect of the new rules on student work, which have come into force in 2012. Students are now allowed to work 50 instead of 46 days at reduced social contributions. The students have the possibility to choose these days freely, whereas in the past they could work a maximum of 23 days outside and a maximum of 23 days during the summer months.
  • In the second place the figures also include the working students who in the period prior to 2012 were not taken into account by the statistics on student work, since they were being declared to the social security as regular salaried workers. This was often done so because of practical considerations, as this offered them the possibility of being released from the constraints of the old rules. One may estimate that roughly 5% of the increase is linked to this statistical shift.

Forceful increase outside the summer period

The summer period remains by a large margin the most popular season for student work:  64.5% of the number of days of student work is situated in the period from July until September included. Yet the share of the summer work in the total number of days worked has already decreased gradually since a number of years, whereas as a result the share of the other quarterly periods is rising year after year. In 2012 the rise of student employment during the quarterly periods outside the summer was more pronounced than during the preceding years.

Evolution of quarterly student work (2008 - 2012)

Share of the quarterly periods: evolution (2008 - 2012)

The number of students working only during the summer is also decreasing gradually in favour of the number of students who are working throughout the whole year.

These figures indicate a change in attitude. Apparently there is growing need both among students and employers for student work outside the summer period. The new rules respond to this newly expressed need.


The figures used in this press release concern the work services registered in the quarterly DmfA declaration providing for a solidarity contribution for students (who are not subject to the ordinary social security system). The so-called DmfA  is the social security return in which the employers inform the NSSO every quarter about their workers’ wage and working time data. These data are only completely available and consolidated at the end of a quarterly period.

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