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A Hard Day's Night: Should we extend University teaching hours?

17th March 2011

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The University of Southampton is seriously considering extending its teaching hours from 8am-8pm in order to accommodate the ever-growing number of students attending the institution. It’s a controversial move to say the least, with just as many problems being created as there are being solved. Personally, I am against extended hours as I have experienced, first hand, the sheer nuisance of them.

I have a 6-8pm lecture. It’s painful, boring and, quite frankly, unnecessary. The time is such an inconvenience. For one, it’s right in the middle of dinner, resulting in us either eating at 5 or 8.30pm. For students in catered accommodation it’s even more of a hassle, as they’ve already paid for the dinner which they will then miss.

For another, it always clashes with clubs and societies. I had to give up Art Society, a society I love, because I never make it in time. My involvement in Art Society may purely be for pleasure, but what about students who have a serious involvement in the club? A music student who is part of the orchestra or a sports student who is part of the football team? Would this not be a hindrance rather than a help to their degree?

Perhaps these problems are not that serious, but that does not mean extended hours don’t raise some worrying issues. Childcare becomes hard to manage for both the lecturers and the students. A fellow student on my course has a young boy, and she says our late lecture is a huge inconvenience for her. Surely extended hours are only discouraging students with special circumstances? The University should be making more of an effort to accommodate them, not deter them.

Finally, having a very early or very late lecture is just unproductive. It’s tiring, resulting in a waning attention span. Of course, when we enter the world of work, we might be expected to work these hours, but, for now, are there not other ways of solving the space issue that would still maximise students learning? Other approaches need to be taken if the University wants to take on more students. After all, with the rise in tuition fees next year, students simply will not stand for this kind of treatment.    

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