Debrief Staff | Contributing Writer | Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The University Courses That Are Short-Changing Their Students

The University Courses That Are Charging Students £1000 An Hour For One-To-One Teaching

The Debrief: What's your degree worth?

Economics students receive the least amount of one-to-one teaching time according to a recent study. 

Information gathered from 67 universities across the UK show the inconsistencies in the amount of one-to-one teaching provided to students. The study by the New College of the Humanities focuses on three university courses in particular – physics, history and economics. 

The ‘one-to-one’ teaching time figures were created by adding up the times of all lectures, seminars (and lab classes) on each course throughout their three-year period and dividing by the figure by the number of students present. For example, if a 60-minute class had 30 students in, that would work out at two minutes per student, and so on. 

The study showed economics students being left at the bottom of the pile, receiving a meagre 26.1 hours of one-to-one teaching time throughout the duration of their time at university – yep, that’s over the course of three years. With degrees typically costing around £9,250 a year, this means these economy students are being charged close to £1,000 an hour for one-to-one teaching. 

History students didn’t fare much better either, receiving just 32.6 hours. 

Physics students however, received a whopping 74.6 hours of one-to-one teaching – that’s almost three times as much as economic students, and double that of those studying history. 

The crazy thing is, for the most part, each of these courses have the exact same tuition fee. So, economy and history students, where’s your money going? 

Head of the study, Dr Mike Peacey says some students are effectively ‘paying a kind of university tax rather than tuition fees’ and continued to state that it is essential for this information to be released so students can compare universities. ‘For a market to function properly, participants must be able to compare what is offered by different providers?’ 

It makes sense. We are able to access individual university course statistics that cover many things, but figures of one-to-one teaching times aren’t currently one of them and in actual fact, they are possibly one of the most important things we need to know before signing up to a university degree.  

It is hoped that the study will encourage universities to reconsider their fees, increasing or decreasing tuition costs depending on the amount of one-to-one teaching time they offer to students. 

Another obvious option of course, is for universities to give sufficient teaching time to ALL of their students, regardless of the subject they are studying. 

£9,250 a year isn’t pocket change afterall. 


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Tags: uni, University, Money worries, Education