Group work is a joke and should be banned

MY degree should not be ruined by other people

Nearly every degree at university will have you doing group work at one point or another as part of your course. Whether you study History or Maths, English or Engineering, odds are assessed group work will be an essential part of your degree.  Whilst there is no denying the importance of being able to work in a group in the world of work, it is completely stupid to have it as part of a university degree.

I’m not paying £9000 a year to achieve a group qualification, so why should even a small part of MY degree be assessed alongside the efforts of other people? It is a broken system that places more emphasis on teaching students how to work as part of a team, instead of getting each individual their best possible degree. Nothing causes more arguments during your time at university, except maybe whose turn it is to buy toilet paper amongst your housemates. Yet despite all the negatives, virtually all courses have it as part of the programme.

Dream Team: Every group thinks they will get along 24/7, but they just won't

Dream Team: Every group thinks they will get along 24/7

Why should my score be lowered because one member of the group doesn’t want to put any effort in? This is the biggest problem with assessed group work! If you manage to get a whole group of people willing to work 110% all the time, then lucky you. However an entire group project can be completely undermined by one individual refusing to work as hard as the rest of you. This can cause one of two completely unfair scenarios for those people that actually try to put together a competent project.

Firstly, the other members of the group work even harder to cover up for the lack of effort from Mr. Lazy and manage to achieve a first for the project. This is great for everyone involved, but why does Mr. Lazy deserve a first for everyone else’s hard work? It is completely unfair that someone else gets a good score when you did all the work.

On the other hand, if the lack of effort from Mr. Lazy means you get a 2:2 for the project, despite all your hard work, how is that fair? The rest of you put in effort of epic proportions, but one individual ruins everything and gets you all a worse grade.

This is a total joke of a system and can not only ruin university, but your entire future. You could miss out on future job opportunities because the university happened to group you up with one individual who decided not to try. Your degree should not have to suffer because somebody didn’t care. On the flip side, Mr. Lazy shouldn’t get a good degree because someone else did all the work for them.

Stresshead: It's all just too much, who thought this was a good idea?

Stresshead: It’s all just too much, who thought this was a good idea?

Group work also causes so many arguments amongst group members – only making university more stressful than it needs to be. The argument can be about nearly anything, from trying to get the aforementioned Mr. Lazy to do some work, or having different viewpoints over how to go about a particular question or topic. From personal experience, even something as simple as the definition of a script caused an entire night of stress and anger that threatened to derail the entire project. Not to mention people refusing to answer messages in the group chat.

University is already difficult enough and work can cause so much stress for students, so placing several people in an even more stress provoking situation is almost barbaric and is heavily unjustified. Universities should be looking to help students, not make things even worse for them.

One excellent anecdote that perfectly summarises the colossal failure that is assessed group work comes from a second year Politics and International Relations student. She was achieving a first prior to the start of her group essay, but the next few weeks of group work destroyed nearly all hope of maintaining her excellent grades. In her group of 5 she the only member actually doing Politics and International Relations as her degree. 3 members of the group were first year students, who weren’t bothered because their marks don’t count towards their final degree. Furthermore, she was the only member of the group who studied an essay subject, meaning all the other members of the group had little experience writing essays and she was forced to spend a lot of extra time and effort correcting errors and fixing the other group members referencing because they hadn’t been taught how to do it to a university standard.

All this meant that she got a third for the group essay, making it borderline impossible to achieve a first for the year. To make it this story even funnier, she admitted this wasn’t her first experience of poor groups after one guy turned up high to an assessed presentation last year.

Fun and games: Whilst some people try to work hard, others just want to mess around

Fun and games: Whilst some people try to work hard, others just want to mess around

Group work is unfair and can potentially ruin the degrees of even the hardest working students. So why is such a broken and destructive practice allowed to be a part of virtually every single course at any given university? It is clearly not beneficial to anyone and in most instances at least one person in the group will get a result they do not deserve, whether it be too high or too low. I know there is the whole aspect of it that aims to teach people how to work as part of a team and get along with other people – but if you’ve made it to university then it’s hardly rocket science to work as a group. Assessed group work needs to be brought to end and banned from university degrees.

If we must have group work, it shouldn’t be assessed because it’s blatantly unfair on most students.