Don't blame lad culture on 'easy' degrees

Monday 03-08-2015 - 11:36

Last week, I read an article by William Richardson, HMC General Secretary in which he said, ‘easy degrees with less contact hours fuel laddish behaviour’. I found it amusing, because medics - students with some of the busiest timetables - had the most savage initiations at the two universities I attended.

In all seriousness though, I find it bizarre to say degree structures fuel alcohol consumption – it’s these kinds of remarks that fuel offensive student stereotypes.

Blaming the timetable for levels of alcohol intake sounds a bit ridiculous and out of touch. It is insulting to say students turn to alcohol because they don’t know what to do with their time.

A lot of students’ unions are leading the way around inclusive Freshers’ Weeks and combatting laddish behaviour, with NUS supporting them.

I want to reject the idea that students feel ‘entitled’ to their high degree classifications – we need to support students in their transition to university whatever their age and induction periods are crucial to settling into an academic community.

We must absolutely dispel this idea that students with lower degree classifications are ‘lazy’.

I find Mr Richardson’s remarks, that students work less and feel entitled, out of touch considering the rise in numbers of students struggling with mental health issues and university counselling services unable to cope with demand.  This shows the rising competition in Higher Education.  Students do care a lot and take on plenty of commitments.

Students also contribute a great deal to the local community.  They do a lot of volunteering, take on part-time jobs and get involved in more extra-curricular activities than ever before.

On Mr Richardson’s points about low contact hours –we see STEM subjects pitted against arts and humanities and social sciences a lot, but we don’t talk about the slashing of funding to arts and humanities courses and universities having to do more with less.  Has he ever considered that this might lead to scaled down provision?

Higher Education is also about independent study – as a philosophy student I had a lot of reading to do and writing a good essay took a lot of time. In some cases, students say that if they had more contact hours they’d have no time to do seminar preparation.

Universities need to do more around study skills support and helping students with self-directed study.  Quality provision is not related to quantity, but the development a student goes through.

Fewer contact hours do not make a degree ‘easy’.  According to this logic, getting a PhD, where there are no scheduled lectures or seminar and it’s completely self-driven, should be a piece of cake, right?

Don’t blame certain courses for ‘laddish behaviour’, blame patriarchy.



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