Term 3 Tuition: What are we paying for?

Term 3 Tuition: What are we paying for?

Jasmin Wade debates the academic and financial value of Exeter's summer term.

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“T uition fees: like rainy days, hangovers, and crippling debt, it’s something we university students just have to accept. Although, £9000 going on £9250 for 30 weeks of formatives, summatives, soul-crushing feedback and exams? Sometimes it seems slightly ridiculous.

It seems especially ridiculous during Term 3 in Exeter, when, instead of 11.5 hours of seminars a week for twelve weeks, I have 5 hours’ worth of exams spread over a four-week period. According to my calculations, in terms 1 and 2 of my second year, I was provided with between 126-138 contact hours over 12 weeks with professionals in my field of study: Modern Languages with TESOL. I received many opportunities to develop my language and teaching skills, insights on how I can improve and support and advice for my impending year abroad which I shall spend in northern Italy.

It cannot be denied that the most valuable sections of the academic year are those first two terms

I am far from being a mathematician, as anyone who knows me well would strongly agree, yet I don’t think these numbers add up. What exactly am I paying for in Term 3? Four exams, invigilators’ salaries, admin costs and what I expect will be an average-high 2:2 grade? Furthermore, it cannot be denied that the most valuable sections of the academic year are those first two terms; 24 weeks which are focused on the subject(s) we study, whereas in exam term I am paying to be ruthlessly assessed in stressful conditions and given grades which will inevitably determine my academic worth and self-esteem. Actually…that sounds kind of useful and worthwhile…

Although I do not support these high tuition fees, or allowing them to increase in line with inflation over the coming years, I don’t think my future self will regret having to pay back these loans even if it means I can’t retire early or even at all. Because I am, relatively, content being at university – I enjoy studying and living the whole “student” experience. I am an academic person, a perfectionist who can’t abandon what she has started, and regardless of the costs I am determined to see my degree through to the end, and maybe even beyond undergraduate level.

Besides, this entire discussion is essentially null and void anyway, as we have no choice but to pay tuition fees in Term 3, as in Term 1 and 2, so our opinions on the matter can only stagnate with time. It may seem unbalanced given that each term varies in its stress levels, expectations and assessment content, but, in my opinion, universities have become less academic institutions and more businesses seeking world-renown and a profit. In order to convince us to pay for tuition, they have to offer high quality education and facilities, and a fair chance at being successful.

Despite the fact that Exeter’s Term 3 timetable is notoriously void of timetables and seminars, I am content with paying its tuition fees

They compete to convince us that they are the most capable of providing us with academic satisfaction, which I think our university delivers. Despite the fact that Exeter’s Term 3 timetable is notoriously void of timetables and seminars, I conclude that I am content with paying its tuition fees. Not ignoring the costs of marking, moderation and admin with regards to the exams themselves, I believe we all need Term 3 to take it easy, prove to ourselves that we are good at our subjects and spend some stress-free time on Exmouth beach in the sun.

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