Students Pay Over £9,000 a Year for Less Than 2 Contact Hours a Day Nationally

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Students are paying £9250 a year on tuition fees, for an average of less than 2 contact hours a day, a higher education finding reveals. The survey of nearly 30,000 students across the country suggests 54 per cent spend less than 11 hours a week being taught in classes and seminars.

Many people question whether they are getting their money’s worth, especially when a breakdown of the figures unveils a steep cost per lecture. 

With approximately 146 annual days of teaching at the University of Leeds, the average of 11 contact hours a week that were found by the study would acquaint to 321 hours a year. Divide the tuition fees by this figure and you’ll find that each contact hour is costing nearly £30.

For many this is a concerning thought, especially considering recent innovations mean people can watch lectures online, making students even further removed from the contact they pay so much for.

This year’s results have seen the lowest number of students with more than 11 contact hours a week since the survey began in 2015. Whilst some contest that 2 contact hours a day is poor value for money, students do need time to prepare for tutorials and seminars and for independent study.

Perhaps, rather than reflecting budget cuts, the limited number of hours is symptomatic of a move towards a more self reflective form of study, away from merely being lectured at. Certainly many students find the workload sufficient, seeing contact hours as a single aspect of a more holistic process of learning.

Nonetheless, many would argue that, regardless of whether the contact hours are sufficient, the cost paid is incommensurate with what is received. It certainly raises the question of how much a course actually costs a university to run, especially considering MA tuition is often substantially less than undergraduate tuition. For instance, If you study history at Bristol University at undergraduate level, it costs £9,250 – but a taught one-year MA is £8,300.

However, universities contest that it is incorrect to see tuition fees in terms of paying for the teaching you receive. The Million Plus group of new universities, in its evidence to the Augar review, claims tuition fees are

“not directly tied to an individual course of study” and would be “better described as a university fee”.

It says that the fee covers outreach work for disadvantaged students and a multitude of central facilities, including administration, marketing, admissions, and welfare support such as mental health services.