Attendance: Pushing Students to Blow Cash Away

I came across this meme today. Although it has been made with the purpose to entertain and humour, I think there is a lot more to be said about it. I finished university 6 months ago and in my final year the attendance rules got much stricter- it meant that there are real consequences for not turning up to lectures. I know a lot of students who have received warning letters from their department heads, threatening dismissal from the course. Students in the UK are now spending up to £9,000 a year and yet they still aren’t going to lectures and seminars; what does this say about the current state of higher education? The cost of my tuition was less than half of this and as a rule I would only skip the compulsary lectures which were not part of our core learning, but generally were a waste of time. If my core tuition was as boring, uninspiring and unhelpful as these side modules, I hand on heart would have left university. I guess you can say I made a good decision with my course.

Students are on average only at university for 30 weeks of the year and this includes reading weeks, exam periods and assessment periods. In fact, as I didn’t sit any summer exams we on our course left four or five weeks after many of the other faculties. So really students are probably only getting taught for more like 20-25 weeks and based on a 25 week year, that £9,000 in reality is £360/week. Each week the average amount of contact time is 14 hours across UK universities, which then means students are paying almost £26/hour. It would be interesting to see if a student who misses a two hour lecture really realises that they have literally thrown away £50, but they probably really haven’t thrown away much of their education as they could still find the lecture notes online, skip through them in half an hour and still get a reasonably good degree.

Students love a good deal and if two hours of education (costing a fortune) is not worth it, it strikes me that we need to pull our fingers out and really think about how we can make the student experience more stimulating.

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