Tuesday 23-02-2016 - 12:29
Are students getting value for money? NUS journalist Zoe Turner takes a look.
University students’ initial reactions to the realisation that their last term finishes mid-March or not too long after may be something along the lines of “Great! A longer summer” or “No more early mornings”. But let’s take a second look.
I’m in my second year at Manchester Metropolitan University and my course this year has run from September and will end in the middle of March. I and many others are paying £9,000 a ‘year’ for five months of contact time, given that those six months include a three-week Christmas break and a reading week. During those five months I have a maximum of 12 hours a week in lectures or seminars, but some courses offer even less to their students.
I asked philosophy student Jenna Alston what she thought of our exceedingly early finish and she said it doesn’t make much of a difference because "I feel like I’m already being robbed blind due to only being in eight hours a week".
I found Jenna was not alone in her frustration when I talked to other students due to finish next month. Helen Clarke said it was "laughable" to call this second year, as students have only spent 10 months in the classroom.
Sam Read said during the 90s, with a labour government in power, students had free tuition and grants.
"The conservative government charges us £9,000 a year with harder living due to a lack of jobs and security and even then we are being short changed for the time we pay for."
On top of the considerable lack of face-to-face teaching we are paying so much for, is the fact that we have to pay for resources such as our texts, our travel and even our print-outs when it’s unclear where the thousands of pounds we’re already giving is being spent.
It’s not just the financial hemisphere of this issue that is upsetting but the fact that we, as students, tend to enjoy learning. Seminars allow for discussion and intellectual stimulation stemming from topics we’re interested in, with support from tutors and peers to explore new ideas. It’s this that we’ll miss out on, some of us as of next month.
What also comes in to play is that because of this limited teaching period, the texts or course material can be extremely crammed, meaning that students aren’t always able to discuss what they’re to be marked on in enough detail.
It’s all well and good to argue that exams and deadlines continue until May or June, but after March or April our work separates from the university with just one or two hour-long revision sessions available before we’re assessed. It’s quite apparent that a lot more could be offered to students today given the amount of money we are going to owe. So where exactly does the money go?
Every year NUS hires a group of student journalists to tell the stories that matter to students. To see more, visit http://nus.org.uk/en/news/student-journalists/ where this article cross-posted.