Jacques Ndahayo, a student at Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), worked for a few months late last year, at Rosty Club bar and restaurant at Kisimenti, Gasabo district.
Since employees at the club work in shifts, Ndahayo worked the night shift and attended class during day, but the working hours increasingly became irregular.
Subsequently, the English Education Level 2 student resigned because it seemed difficult to combine both studies and the long working hours.
However, he says, he quit the job not because he does not want to juggle studies and work, but he is looking for a job elsewhere that will be flexible enough to accommodate his school timetable.
Just like Ndahayo, many other university students have now changed their mindset of relying on the government's monthly stipend (bourse) and are trying to look for jobs to generate income that could help them meet some of their school basic needs.
The monthly stipend is paid to government sponsored students and, previously, the Rwf25,000 allowance was said to be sufficient, thus the lack of urge to get part times jobs.
Samuel Kalisa, another KIE student, says they have also changed the tendency to belittle some jobs.
He said, for instance, some of his classmates work as guards with the numerous private security companies - working at night and then studying during the day. Others work in hotels, bars, and restaurants. Many receive a monthly salary of less than Rwf50, 000.
"There is no negligible job for us, what is most important is to get money," he said.
Kalisa worked as a coaching teacher for children at various homes during the holidays. He was paid Rwf3,000 per day, but has lost the job when schools re-opened for the first term. He is looking for another job elsewhere.
According to the students, juggling jobs and studies is, however, challenging and needs impeccable time management.
"If I had the Rwf50,000 every month without working, I would use the time I spend looking for money on conducting research in library," Kalisa said, adding that sometimes their academic performance is affected because of regular failure to attend class.
"In most cases, we read summaries of the handouts distributed by the lecturers."
Ndahayo equates this stipend to a droplet of water in an ocean.
For example, he says, they pay Rwf18,000 of the Rwf 25,000 to the students' restaurant, adding that the remaining Rwf7,000 cannot pay accommodation, buy scholastic materials and satisfy all other basic needs like photocopying notes.
However, not all government-sponsored students receive bourse. This means whereas their tuition is covered by government, they have to take care of their upkeep after a decision taken in 2010.
Helping job hunters
James Habimana, a 4th year journalism student at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) in Huye district, is no longer a beneficiary of government bursary.
He says he started working for different media outlets as an intern and freelance reporter, while in 2nd year.
He is now a writer at a local media organisation.
"Even if it is little, the money I get from here helps me pay accommodation, meals and satisfy all the school needs instead of piling all my problems on my parents," he said, adding that some of his classmates work in hotels and teach in secondary schools in the Southern Province where the university is located.
According to the NUR guild president, Egide Kalisa, they collaborate with hotels, bars, transport agencies, and other potential employers to find jobs for the students.
"It's difficult to find a hotel or a bar in Huye without any NUR student working there," he told The New Times in an interview recently, without giving statistics.
Kalisa noted that previously, only students without the bursary loan looked for jobs. "But now, even those receiving the bursary are looking for jobs since the cost of living has risen," he observed.
"We even have students working as cleaners," Kalisa said.
The director of labour, research and employment promotion in the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, François Ngoboka, said previously students were given temporary teaching jobs in secondary schools, but now they need to find other jobs.
"During the last five years, the number of university students increased. This meant the number of graduates looking for teaching jobs also increased. We, therefore, advised university students to look for other jobs other than teaching," Ngoboka told The New Times yesterday.
Some are still searching. Others have already found a job to keep them busy. But the one factor that is uniting the students as they search for a job is the need to be financially stable.