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Last Updated: Monday, 17 April 2006, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Fees come in 'as tuition drops'
students at degree ceremony
Some students have only five hours tuition a week, the survey suggests
University students due to pay top-up fees of 3,000 a year face a reduction in teaching hours, a survey suggests.

According to the Daily Telegraph, a survey of 10 new and traditional universities found teaching was just five hours per week in some courses.

Some universities said the courses with fewer teaching hours were for students who were expected to be self-motivated.

But some department heads said the fall in hours was due to universities having to teach more students.

The survey of 11 subjects found engineering students received between 16 and 30 hours' tuition per week while history of art students had as little as five hours.

Bristol University offered six hours for history of art, English and politics but 15 for French and 12 for geography and maths.

Some people want to be spoon-fed for three years... but it is not like that here
Barry Taylor
Bristol University

Students enrolling for chemistry at York University can expect 25 hours of tuition time, while those studying mechanical engineering offered 21 hours of lectures and practicals.

History of art students however, were allocated five hours of tuition.

Plymouth and Oxford Brookes both allocated 12 hours for history of art.

A spokesman for Bristol University, Barry Taylor, said its English students, who receive six hours of tuition per week, were expected to be self-motivated.

'Up to you'

He told the newspaper : "Six hours direct contact with world class minds in the subject should be enough to set students off on their own inquiries.

"Some people want to be spoon-fed for three years and come out with a degree because that is what happened to them at A-level. But it is not like that here.

"You are expected to be very, very self-motivated. The approach to teaching is a light touch to ensure that you are nudged in the right direction but, essentially, it is up to you."

The idea that students can carry out research more easily than in the past is pure fantasy
Anthony King
Essex University

But Anthony King, professor of British government at Essex University, told the Telegraph the fall in hours was due to universities having to teach more students than they did 20 years ago.

In 1980 there were nine students for every lecturer as opposed to the current figure of 18.

"The idea that students can carry out research more easily than in the past is pure fantasy," he said.

"Surfing the net is not the same as doing research. The notion that people of 17 or 18 are sufficiently well motivated and know enough about their subjects to study by themselves is purest fantasy."


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