Abstract In a recent article in this journal, Robbins (2010) pointed out the importance of understanding the 'hard labour' of university students who have part-time jobs during term time. He did this, however, without invoking the testimony of the student-workers themselves in their dual role as university students and part-time workers. He focused instead on data mainly from quantitative surveys, including his own, of student-workers at a regional university. While Robbins provides an informative and up-to-date account of what he rightly calls 'a challenging time to be a university student', his article does not offer any real insight into the way these challenges are experienced by the young workers whose voices are absent in his paper. This article seeks, in part, to fill this gap by featuring the testimonies of a sample of student-workers at a regional campus in Australia. The stories reveal a range of strategies which students use to resolve the dilemmas posed by the work-study couplet.