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Uni cheating students- contact hrs

25 replies

Neapolitanicecream · 23/09/2022 08:25

DS at very top London Uni science course only 3 in person hrs / week, rest online. Uni led on Covid advice, is this an excuse. It’s the Uni that is cheating the students of proper teaching.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

64 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
Goodadvice1980 · 23/09/2022 08:26

Was this made clear prior to enrolment or changed after enrolment?

dancinfeet · 23/09/2022 08:30

yes that’s not good. my daughter has just under 26 hrs of contact hrs per week and all in person on her degree course that she has just started.

Neapolitanicecream · 23/09/2022 08:32

they said it would be in person lectures. Obviously not recently due to covid but they have now continued online pre-recorded lectures

OP posts:
DelurkingAJ · 23/09/2022 08:32

I wonder if they’ve let so many in (bums on seats is money) that they can’t fit them all in the usual lecture halls. My experience of a top London science course was that they expected 1 in 4 to fail first year (20 years ago, mind you).

Neapolitanicecream · 23/09/2022 08:33

dancinfeet What course she doing ?

OP posts:
Neapolitanicecream · 23/09/2022 08:36

It’s 2nd year and can’t use Covid excuse !!! How do they get away with it !! The VC was in the news awhile back for highest paid 🤣

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PorkPieAndAPickledOnion · 23/09/2022 08:37

Some courses at good universities do have very low numbers of contact hours, as students are expected to self direct a lot of their study. It’s part of developing their research skills, and ability to learn independently.

I was an undergrad at a Russell Group uni over 30 years ago, and I remember some courses having as little as four hours of direct teaching per week in total. I took a joint honours course with a practical component and received about 4-6 hours a week plus 4 hours practical. Apart from the practical there was nothing to force us to be at any of those lectures or seminars, and provided you actually did the reading and turned in your essays on time it was perfectly possible to pass courses without going to lectures. Tutorials were where you thrashed things out in small groups with tutors and developed your critical thinking skills, and these were separate from lectures and seminars.

Conversely, it was also the norm to sometimes join lectures in subjects which interested you outside your own course.

I don’t think that you can judge a course by the number of ‘contact hours’. Undergrad study is about much more than that.

Neapolitanicecream · 23/09/2022 08:37

She has a 1 lab day/week as well

OP posts:
Whichwhatnow · 23/09/2022 08:42

Oh I was all ready to say you were being unreasonable as I only had 6 hours max of lectures and seminars a week on my degree (before COVID). But that was essay based and largely self-led in terms of doing research etc so it was fine.

But for a science course? No way! Surely they need practicals/lab work/in-person guidance from lecturers? All the students on science based course at my university seemed to be in for more of the week than not!

AvocadoPlant · 23/09/2022 08:46

I think it’s very poor that the university was using covid as an excuse last year to be honest, even worse it’s still being trotted out this year.
My DD has just started 2nd year in a humanities degrees, and last year was c.12 hrs pw lectures and seminars, all were F2F.
She is expecting this year to be similar.

Neapolitanicecream · 23/09/2022 14:22

I know it’s disgraceful. They did say that the would have more in person this year. Always vague promises!!! But what can 2nd years do now ??? Bloody London Uni it’s not he top one so expect better but they have a captive audience!!! Can’t very well start somewhere else

OP posts:
Neapolitanicecream · 23/09/2022 14:23

It’s is the top one

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scrufffy · 23/09/2022 15:05

This isn't new. I agree it's a disgrace.

Pinkbananas01 · 23/09/2022 15:24

DS just started 1st yr uni & all his tutorials & lectures bar 1 hr are in person. DH works for another uni & most of the lectures there are in person as well.
All lectures are put online as well for those who can't go in due to illness.

thing47 · 23/09/2022 15:41

Yes I think that's unacceptable for a science course. DD is a scientist and did both her under-grad and Masters (at different universities) before and during Covid and had more contact time than that.

Does he have a good relationship with his personal tutor? If so, I'd mention to him/her in the first instance.

Thingsdogetbetter · 23/09/2022 15:54

I can see benefits of online lectures as long as seminars and tutorials are face to face. Instead of dragging students into a huge room at a specific time to listen to a 2 hour lecture where they can't ask questions anyway, they have access to a recording they can watch at a convenient time, stop and rewind if they don't understand etc etc. More convenient, much easier to take notes as you can pause or slow down, look up terms and concepts they don't understand etc. Anecdotal evidence suggests recorded lectures have higher attendance than face to face.

So she has 3 hours face to face seminars and a full day of labs a week? And can organise when she views lecturers at her own convenience? Sounds perfectly sensible to me.

Thistleinthenight · 23/09/2022 16:21

Even 10 or 15 years ago there were plenty of courses offering 10 hours a week class contract, and for half the year only. It's a huge rip off, and there is no excuse for it.

Neapolitanicecream · 24/09/2022 05:13

It’s definitely a rip off as no lectures in the summer term anyway. I just know how Imperial justify it. It’s very arrogant as they were not upfront about it. And 2 years can’t really go anywhere else

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disappear · 24/09/2022 06:20

This happened to my daughter last year. One of her lecturers died the year before and they were still using her lecturers . Part of the problem was that they had admitted too many students to the course and couldn’t physically accommodate them.

Coffeaddict · 24/09/2022 06:36

I work at a Russel group university and we have received goverment guidelines stating for the next academic year course design can be based on potential implications of covid or lockdowns.

In terms of lectures staying online a number of unis including my own have done this. The reasons are 2 fold. The old style of sitting 300 students in a lecture theatre and talking at them for an hour has been proven to have very low information retention rates. This was actually the cheapest way to teach and in the days where alot of this information couldn't be easily accessed it made sense. However most modern universities are applying more active learning styles. This can be done in the style of a flipped classroom approach. The students are provided with a pre recorded lecture which they watch to prep themselves for their session. They then have in person workshop / seminars/ tutorials where they apply the knowledge, discuss the topics. If there just providing the online lectures without any workshops ect that's not ideal.

The second reason is when students at our uni were surveyed over 80% said they petered their lectures online rather then in person. I agree with this. When I was a student I really struggled to listen and scribble down all the notes. Would lose track of what the lecturer and said and get confused. Being able to pause the video so you can catch up, look up the word you don't understand ect. has its pros.

You've said this is outside of the lab time. How much lab time are they getting? To be clear as a science degree the lab time is their contact hours so if they are spending several hours a week doing labs then that is not dissimilar to my own education 20 years ago long before covid.

lysha42 · 26/09/2022 12:07

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AchatAVendre · 26/09/2022 13:49

CoffeeAddict The second reason is when students at our uni were surveyed over 80% said they petered their lectures online rather then in person.

Well, of course they are going to say that! Its far easier to lie in bed til midday and then stick on a video while you are on your phone than actually get dressed smartly, turn up for a lecture and concentrate.

Universities are also about preparing people for professional jobs, and part of that is instilling in them basic habits of discipline and professional style behaviours. They cannot learn that from watching videos online and there is no way of verifying that they are indeed watching the videos properly. Thats why many courses introduced compuls0ry attendance. It is a pie in the sky to think that the problems of students who just do not attend lectures magically goes away by making them online.

AchatAVendre · 26/09/2022 13:57

That is quite appalling OP. Granted, universities are supposed to be less about teaching and more about student-led learning, its such a cop out from basic provision of a service that its beginning to cheapen the UK university sector because its permitted.

I did my undergraduate degree in the UK and my masters recently at a university in Europe on a par with Oxford/Cambridge, teaching masters students amongst others as a lecturer at a UK university in-between. The difference in quality of education was enormous. The standard of teaching and the innovative methods used was far higher at the continental university, however traditional lectures were the basis on which it all worked. Attendance was compulsory. Standard of debate in tutorials and presentation in workshops was extremely high.

I also recently refused to teach any more part time hours at my local university in my subject, because they simply don't pay me enough. I calculated that the hourly rate was only 35% more than the average local going rate for a cleaner. Nothing wrong with cleaners but they don't have years of training, qualifications and expertise behind them.

A lot of British universities rely quite heavily on part time ("ad hoc") lecturers and tutors. I wonder whether this university simply cannot get enough people to teach and so has resorted to spreading its teaching resources very thinly?

Absolutely shocking how dumbed down British university education has become, particularly when you take into account the massive fees. The fees for a Masters at my continental alma mater, equivalent in that country to Oxford/Cambridge, are 1900 euros per year.

Coffeaddict · 27/09/2022 21:40

Well, of course they are going to say that! Its far easier to lie in bed til midday and then stick on a video while you are on your phone than actually get dressed smartly, turn up for a lecture and concentrate

Universities are also about preparing people for professional jobs, and part of that is instilling in them basic habits of discipline and professional style behaviours. They cannot learn that from watching videos online

I don't see how the location that your doing work has any bearing on anything. Never sat at home and read over the slides for a big presentation? Employers are increasingly embracing flexible working meaning employees can and often do work from home. As long as they remain productive this in and of itself is not an issue. The lecture I gave today ( live and in person) was prepared at home where I sat in my pyjamas on my sofa. I am 8 months pregnant so getting "dressed smartly" and going to my office to "concentrate" would make me uncomfortable and therefore less productive. I completed my work in a way that worked for me. My employer doesn't care where I work as long as the work is done.

there is no way of verifying that they are indeed watching the videos properly.
In traditional lectures ie the type I would have had 15 / 20 years ago active learning was not incorporated. A lecturer spoke at you for 1 hour and then you all left. If you read the rest of my post other then 1 statement about students opinion you would see from an information retention standpoint this was not effective. And no engagement or demonstration of understanding was not monitored.

Thats why many courses introduced compuls0ry attendance.
I absolutely agree that attendance is beneficial to student outcomes and should be compulsory ( unfortunately it is not in mine but I wish it was). However you need to be thinking about what they are showing up for. Arriving into a tutorial, workshop or lab with prior knowledge ( ie the information obtained from the lectures) means the Face to face teaching can focus on consolidating information and clarifying understanding. This flipped classroom approach has been shown to benifit students in terms of exam outcomes. It's the same as you starting a new project at work, you don't walk into the first team meeting with no idea what your doing, you look over material, you think about how the project might look. This is what the online lectures do, they prepare their knowledge base. As I said in my previous post the lectures need to be complemented with some form of consolidation for the flipped classroom approach which the OP didn't clarify if this was happening.

HoneyIShrunkThePizza · 27/09/2022 21:43

Christ that's so little. I went to the comparatively plebby UCL and we had about 30 hours of contact a week for chemistry. This was 10 years ago though. Always felt I got good value for money compared to friends who studied philosophy or similar...

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