In recent years with the various austerity measures put in place by governments, the main providers of welfare, funding of social protection programmes have shrunk. Yet, protecting the less fortunate has never been the preserve of the State; families, communities and civil societies had always contributed in the provisions. One of such contributors are universities, though their core mandate is to educate but in addition many universities have established schemes and scholarships to ensure access to tertiary education for students from low income families. However, as in many social interventions, including Ghana’s, there is a gap between policy intent and practice, but often the focus is on the implementors not the beneficiaries. This paper therefore presents findings from a qualitative study exploring the perceptions of participating students in the ‘work and study’ programme in KNUST using the Social Action theory to unveil the reasons underpinning actions of students who have to work. A case study research design was adopted for this study using a qualitative approach with in-depth interviewing as the method of data collection. Fifteen undergraduates, volunteered to participate in the study. Data collected were qualitatively analysed using the NVivo software. Findings from the study revealed that students had multiple reasons for joining the scheme and it was not based on the sole rational motive of earning an income. The study provides an analytical insight that predicts the behaviours of beneficiaries of social protection initiatives.