Monday, 15 August 2016

It's character building...

Marking now over...

As a Oxford alumus I was rather alarmed to read last month the THE article: Oxford told to address fears over 'excessive' student workloads.

I thought that was what you signed up for. Lots of work, lots of detailed feedback, being pushed way out of your confort zone. It is an important part of developing into the best person you can be - and isn't that what universities should be about?

And that is why I am concerned. This follows on from petitions in some US inversities for a reduction in workload for 'activism'. But given some of the rather violent antics that passes for student activism over the pond, workloads could well benefit from perhaps raising in order to keep the peace.

My advice in response to the QAA, is for the university to enact some policy aimed at cutting off the tail of the tutorial workload. Clearly a few tutors are lettiing the side down.

Seriously as a student with at best so-so prior social capital (son of a tradesman), I was grateful of the hard currency that a difficult degree in a prestigeous university gave me.

Most of the students I've taught were not blessed with high prior social capital. They needed the encouragement and push to develop their knowledge and skills. And the reassurance that the time they invested with us would bear fruit. I still fondly remember meeting many of them at graduation, when they shook my hands, thanking us for helping them get jobs with Google, Microsoft and Accentre.

Pushing students to become the best they can be I would say is a kep  part of what we do. High social capital students may still be able to do well if they stay within their comfort zones, but not all students are in such a happy position. We abdicate our responsibilities in HE if we do not do this.

I will close with a final point that there is an informal contract between universities and past, present and future students. All in reality work together to estabish and preserve the reputation and credibity of the degree they that take; as at the end of day it is the quality of the graduates that sustains a university's reputation. This hard work should not be squandered.

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