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Fees UP Teaching hours DOWN Students ANGRY
SUSSEX University students are angry at the lack of teaching hours. One undergraduate said: "People will lose the incentive to come to university. You're barely getting an education. I have one seminar of one and a half hours per week, and every other week I have a lecture. For this I pay £1,125."
A Socialist Students public meeting revealed this problem on many courses. "I thought it would be more than a reading list with no teaching hours," said a psychology student. "In retrospect I've come out of university not the wiser but much the poorer."
When I was at university, studying politics, for each course we had a weekly lecture and a weekly seminar, when students could discuss their work with one another. The seminar was always led by a tutor-usually an experienced lecturer.
Normally students took four courses at any one time, giving them around eight hours' contact time a week, to be supplemented by private study. Three years on, a lecture 'and' a seminar are replaced by 'either ...or'. Tutors meanwhile are recruited more and more from the student body itself.
As recently as the early 1990s, not only did students have a grant and no fees to pay, but the size of their seminars was much, much smaller. Seminars, then known as 'tutorials', had at most three students to one tutor.
Today most seminars involve more than 20 students. One Sussex course has 50 students per seminar, and has replaced the tutor with a video.
University of Sussex Socialist Students' termly magazine, The Sussex Socialist links the contact hours issue to issues of higher education funding in general, fees, and the government’s capitalist priorities.
In The Socialist 6 March 2004:
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