SEVERAL of my friends and acquaintances have children at university.
Many of these offspring already seem to be winding down for the summer.
So I wasn’t entirely surprised when Secondborn announced at the weekend that she would be “finished by the end of Week Five.”
Which means that in a weeks time she will have no more lectures.
She seems quite pleased with the idea of extending her already lengthy summer break – from June to October – by a few weeks and was cross when I pointed out that she’d paid fees for a full three terms of ten weeks apiece.
“You’re going to write about this, aren’t you?” she said.
And indeed I am.
Universities, of course, will argue that their main historical function is research, with teaching a spin-off from this activity.
Some arts courses offer students as little as six hours of lectures and contact time a week. Students are expected to get into the habit of self-study, which makes me wonder why they pay the same fees as those – generally science undergraduates – who can expect 20 hours or more of lectures, plus laboratory work, each week.
Many students seem to do most of their work in terms one and two, with term three cut short by exams and not much else. They use university facilities for less than half a year. In the summer term there must be student accommodation that is empty and yet still being paid for.
Next year, with fees set to soar to £9,000 a year at many universities, I suspect students may start to question exactly what they’re getting for their money. This is, after all, the consumer generation.
Going to university is a life-changing experience and is always going to be about more than just study, but all the same I can’t help wondering how happy graduates are going to be with a debt of more than £50,000 (on average) for a three year course away from home that maybe could have been completed in two.