HEPI report suggests no change in contact hours
In 2006, 2007, 2009 and now again in 2012 HEPI have conducted surveys of various aspects of the academic experience of students.
The report, the academic experience of students at English universities – 2012, shows that has been little or no change in the quality or quantity of contact hours for students, despite the trebling of tuition fees.
On average, undergraduates received 13.9 hours of formal teaching a week in 2011-12 - roughly the same as when tuition fees were £1,225 a year in 2005-06, close to a third of the 2011-12 cap of £3,375. Class sizes have also remained the same.
Students enjoy an average of 48 minutes a week in classes of six or fewer people, six minutes more than in 2005-06, while the amount of time spent in medium-sized classes of between seven and 16 students is largely unchanged.
The survey of 10,000 first- and second-year students, undertaken by polling firm YouthSight, follows interviews with 15,000 students for similar surveys in 2006 and 2007. The report suggests that students will not see improvements in September when their fees are trebled again.
"The amount of contact hours has hardly changed in the past five or six years. Students are not getting anything more," said Bahram Bekhradnia, director of HEPI. "David Willetts (the universities and science minister) has been quite adamant he would not charge more unless students were getting more for their money. However, apparently they are not."
However, universities are fighting back against the report. Dr. Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group says: “The student workload, including both contact hours and private study, is rightly demanding at Russell Group universities. But learning at university is a very different experience from learning at school and different disciplines will require different ways of learning so it is important we take the debate away from the narrow confines of contact hours," she explains.
"Students learn in ways that are hard to quantify and they are supported and steered through their studies. Many lecturers operate an ‘open door’ policy where students can get help and advice outside lectures or tutorials. It’s worth noting that this report finds there is no obvious correlation between either contact hours or the amount of time students spend studying and their overall satisfaction."