The SCANDAL of Tuition Fees REVEALED

Official figures have exposed the huge differences in the face-to-face teaching time students receive at Britain’s top universities with some undergraduates – paying tuition fees of £9,000 a year – […]

Southampton tuition fees University of Southampton

Official figures have exposed the huge differences in the face-to-face teaching time students receive at Britain’s top universities with some undergraduates – paying tuition fees of £9,000 a year – getting less than half the hours of lectures, seminars and tutorials than others studying the same subject at another university.  

Unistats compiled the figures after after Ministers insisted families had the right to make comparisons before choosing a course to attend. Critics say the disparities mean many are getting a ‘very raw deal’ and accuse some universities of  failing to offer value for money.

The new figures, compiled from statistics on the Government website Unistats, show that one of the widest gaps involves undergraduates studying history at York University, who spend just 8% of their course in lectures and seminars, with the rest in ‘independent’ study. This is fewer than 100 hours a year ‘contact’ time with academics and works out at a cost of nearly £100 an hour, with a reliance on studying in a students own time. But if they are reading the same subject at University College London, they will receive more than  triple the face-to-face teaching hours, at a rate of about £28 an hour. This establishes that at some newer universities, where intake is more mixed and teaching takes priority over research, contact time tends to be greater.

Research focussed universities are targeted as there is the view of increased temptation to free-up staff to concentrate on their own research as this can attract further funding. ‘Individual study’ and increased fees can be justified by the opportunities to be taught by some of the best academics in their field, often the case here at Southampton in ECS, Engineering, Geography and Physics. Although some students may be thankful of the increased free time in order to watch Jeremy Kyle and nurse your Jesters hangovers, others who are bearing the brunt of the £9,000 a year fees can be disappointed by the lack of quality time with teaching staff and personal attention, therefore not getting their moneys worth. The first year’s grades not counting, mounting from the “you only need 40%” culture also causes controversy as some see that they are paying £9,000 for…nothing and are struggling to see where the money is going.

Do you want more of this or is ‘independent study’ more beneficial?

In my experience Southampton University may not have the most contact hours for my course, but the resources on offer and the support with employment, internships, tutor and dissertation supervision and access to activities that contribute to my CV makes my fees well worthwhile. It is important to remember that your fees contribute to your use of equipment in labs (or other things specific to your course), the library books you take out and everything on offer in Hartley itself, the use of the SU, and all the resources available to you on sites like Webcat, SUSSED and Blackboard.

Speaking to some first year students here at Southampton, they have a few different views:

One English and History student said:

 I have a total of 9 hours a week and a 5 day weekend…I have contact with an academic advisor once a term and via email as and when I need him. A couple of my module tutors are very accessible. History, as it’s very research led, we are left to our own devices a bit considering I am paying £9k!  Also, first year doesn’t count towards final grades for many of us, so I am effectively paying £9000 for my first year which achieves nothing…”

A BSc Population and Geography student said:

I have 8 hours a week for 3 modules, only 1 of which I have a tutorial for, which to be honest is enough! However, I met with my personal tutor once during freshers and never since.”

On the other hand, a first year Medic says:

The degree is worth the money that I’m paying, but, like other healthcare students, they shouldn’t have to pay £9000 and should have access to the NHS bursary.”

There are clearly many opinions on the issue of tuition fees, with the first year of the maximum of £9,000 fees it is not that last we will hear about them. Some call for means-tested fees or differential fees depending on courses, contact hours or the average salary after graduation. Tell us about your experiences and thoughts in the comments!