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how can you charge us so much for so little teaching in return?

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    With so little contact time, it seems you can do 2 or 3 degrees at the same time, you can ask for a bulk buying discount.
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    (Original post by Lizia)
    You haven't answered either question. If we're meant to be so independent, why bother having lectures and seminars at all? Why not just issue us with a reading list, and let us go to our tutors if we need to? Answer: because that isn't what the university want, since they need to somehow justify the £9,000 they're charging, and they seem to think ten hours of seminars will somehow make us forget we're being ripped off. And also since most undergraduates don't have the knowledge to be able to understand textbooks and publications, without being made to understand the basics first.

    People choose OU because they don't want to go to university and be taught, they want to work completely independently. Since the vast majority of people don't take OU courses, surely that suggests that most people need some guidance and help? It's all well and good rambling on about what university is "meant" to be in theory, but that's not what it is for most people so it's pointless to talk about it like that. For most people, university is lectures to bring the basis of knowledge and explain fundamental concepts, then wider reading to flesh out the subject. It's more independent than college in that you do more independent work, not in that you hardly need tutors at all.

    And, tbh, the OU doesn't have the reputation that the top universities do. If you want the best job possible, you go to the best university possible. While the OU isn't bad by any means, it doesn't have the same status as Oxbridge, LSE or UCL. So high achievers are still being held ransom, in that if they want a degree that will give them the kind of jobs they're aiming for, they still need to pay all that money for effectively nothing.

    I'm a languages student, who learned Italian from scratch last year. I had four hours a week, two of grammar and two of speaking. No way on earth is that enough, however good the teachers are. Although I did well in my exams, I went to a language school in Italy over the summer because I could not speak the language properly. If I'd stayed there for the equivalent of an academic session at my uni (20 weeks), it would still only have cost me £1350 and I'd have had the same amount of grammar as I would have in 150 weeks at university (seven and a half years). How anyone can claim my degree isn't a rip off, I don't know. In the time I was in Italy, my friend who was a complete beginner at the start, was at the same level I was after a year at university.

    Whatever you might think about other courses, the simple truth is that you achieve anything in a language degree without contact hours. Two hours a week of speaking is ridiculous and serves no one very well.
    You pay the extra for the "top" unis because you want the best, usually the highest paid jobs so it does pay to go there and pay the extra. OU isn't free anyway.
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    (Original post by Lizia)
    I know OU isn't free, but it also isn't anywhere near as expensive as a 'real' degree, afaik. And sure, we pay the extra to have the name on our degree, but scientists have more than twice as many hours as us, pay the same fees and get the name on their degree. How is that justifiable?
    Science students have to have more contact time because if the practical nature of their degree. I had 4 afternoons per week of lab work in my undergrad degree plus 5 mornings per week of lectures. Science degrees are partly vocational because you have to learn how to do lab work.

    I don't quite understand why some art students complain about the amount of contact time because if you have lectures and tutorials all the time, they would complain about the lack of time left for independent research for assignments.
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    (Original post by Lizia)
    I do a languages degree. How do you learn a language well when you only have a chance to speak with the teachers for two hours a week? Surely languages are also partly vocational, because you have to practise speaking them, and the only way to do that is with native speakers! Sciences aren't the only 'partly vocational' courses, plenty of humanities can be just as practical.

    I don't know anyone who would, aside from really lazy students who shouldn't be there in the first place. My friends who do more lecture intense subjects still have essays to write, and they manage just fine. I seem to have a heck of a lot of free time, despite doing all my reading. And in most arts subjects here, you get an essay title before reading week/the main holidays, and the essay is due in the week you're back. So for four weeks of each half term, you don't have much research to be doing for assignments, you just have to read some texts for each lecture, which takes at most an hour or two.

    So for ten hours of lectures a week, I'm doing maybe five to ten extra hours of reading. I assume that scientists do actually do some work outside of lectures as well, so we're still trailing far behind them. Basically, languages students need contact hours just as much as scientists, are paying the same money as them at the same institution, but are being denied the same services. I don't see how you can justify a 25 hour a week course that uses a lot of expensive equipment costing the same as a 10 hour a week course that requires nothing extra beyond a lecturer. And I certainly can't see how you could justify charging any more than £3,200 for said 10 hour a week course.
    If you want to learn a language, then why are you doing a language degree? Why aren't you in the country where the language you want to learn is spoken? If its an European language, you can do that very easily.

    I knew a Chinese bloke who got sent to prison, he didn't speak much English when he went in but he spoke Englsih well after just 9 months when he was released.
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    I think it unrealistic to expect to learn a language fluently during a degree course. I knew a bloke who did Spanish at Oxford and could speak it formally but only gained fluency when he worked in Spain for a few years after graduation.

    Most language courses have a year in a country where its spoken which is where people have to use what the have learnt and build on it in country.
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    I cannot say I have had issue with my contact time. I can easily distribute an entire day in university between lectures, labs and independent assignment work, and at times it can actually be overwhelming. I think arts courses have less courses because they are more about your own research and reading, so the lecturers presume that you will be spending the time doing your own work that you would in a lab in my course. If arts students have so much free time why are they not using it and getting 1sts instead of 2.1s? The argument is moot, students in good universities, both in sciences and arts subjects like History, get a prescribed amount of time they should be spending on each module in the course, and if you are doing much less than that either you are dossing about(which is poor on your part) or are a genius(in which case you are probably an exception).
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    I have to agree with Lizia about some of the foreign languages degrees. Contact time is so important, you can't expect your oral skills to improve at a good rate or by much with such little contact time. I'm in Italy on my year abroad right now, and I'd say that the three week long Intensive language course that I've done here has prepared me for studying in Italy much better than the previous two years of studying Italian at my home university. It was sixty hours of lessons, which is equivalent to one academic year's worth of contact time back at my university in England...
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    don't know if this has been mentioned yet but with the fees going up surely they could shorten a lot of courses into 2 years?

    I've only just started uni this year i have 14 hours a week and i would say i work reasonably hard outside of lectures (i get all my homework done and make sure i understand everything from my lecture) i still have a fair amount of free time and there's only so much drinking i can do. given also that my contact time decreases over the next two years surely they could condense my course into 2 years?

    i know people who only have 8 hours a week they can surely be shortened down.
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    I'm in 8 hours a week in my first year. If it was £6/7000 a year then I would definitely NOT have come to this uni if I'd known I would be in so little time. Why am I paying £3290 a year for 8 hours contact time when if the lecturers, tutors and students made more effort the degree could be done in two years! That's how I feel anyway. We have hardly any work, no janurary exams in my uni. I feel like what exactly am I paying for? To be read a power point and then do an essay on it.


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Updated: October 17, 2010
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