Ripped off, pissed off: Fury at sub-par teaching ‘scandal’ as unis employ postgrads so academics can focus on research

As real lecturers pursue their academic excellence, students are getting stuck with untrained postgrads


Disgruntled students are hacked off at the poor standard of teaching in top universities, amid the highest levels of student dissatisfaction since the hike in tuition fees.

The rise in postgraduates teaching classes, rather than qualified lecturers, has left students feeling ripped off and pissed off. Recent statistics have revealed that even top Russell Groupers employ those studying for a doctorate as teachers, while academics are allowed to focus on research.

Number crunchers over at the consumer group Which? compiled information from the Higher Education Policy Institute over the last three years.

A survey of 1,000 first and second year students found 46% thought their degree wasn’t worth the money. On top of that, three in ten said their “academic experience” was not up to scratch.

Alan Smithers, head of the centre for education and employment research at Buckingham University, told the Sunday Times: “Universities are using their best academics on research and passing on teaching to postgraduates… Clearly it is a scandal.”

Shockingly, it appears that super-intelligent, groundbreaking intellectuals would rather be researching their fields and broadening their educational horizons than teaching a bunch of hungover, disinterested 20 somethings.

Some students, however, are understandably unhappy that they are paying nearly £30,000 to be talked at by a recently graduated keeno with no formal educational training and limited academic expertise.

Big turnout for the 22-year-old nerd's second lecture

Big turnout for the 22-year-old postgrad’s second lecture

Josh Holloway, who has just finished his second year studying Geography at Royal Holloway (allegations that he picked the uni simply because his name matched remain unconfirmed), had a nightmare experience with an incompetent postgraduate.

“My experience of teaching has been far from satisfactory,” he said. “I had a postgrad teach me one module for one term and she was beyond terrible. Everyone complained and she didn’t even complete the term.

“Our lecturer returned and apologised for her.”

Matt Whiteley, an Engineering student at the University of Manchester, only thinks it becomes a problem when the postgrad is useless.

He said: “If the material they are teaching is something they feel confident about, then I don’t think it is a major issue.

“I would expect nearly all of my modules to be taught by a lecturer though. That said, the one postgrad who I have been taught by, despite being nervous and making silly mistakes, was perfectly fine to learn from.”

"I have no idea what I'm doing"

“I have no idea what I’m doing”

The statistics show the highest level of student dissatisfaction seen since the rise in tuition fees way back in 2012. At top universities like Westminster, Greenwich and Cambridge, just 58% of teaching hours are led by a university academic on some courses.

Judith Squires, pro vice-chancellor at the University of Bristol, remained indignant in the face of the gloomy news.

She told the Sunday Times that not only had “over 90% of our students said they found their course intellectually stimulating”, but “the student learning experience at Bristol is about far more than simply face-to-face teaching, important as this is.”

Indeed, that £9,000 isn’t just going towards the academic side of university, it’s also going towards the University of Life. Because you can’t have experiences without paying tuition fees, remember. And tuition fees certainly cover all the experiences you have at university on their own, of course.