Like many other humanities students, I am faced with very few contact hours in return for my staggeringly steep tuition fees. The rare time that I do spend in seminar rooms and lecture theatres is prepared for with numerous books and articles. Whilst this may be the nature of the course, as one largely dependent on individual research, whether students should be made to pay for books and resources on top of these tuition fees is questionable.
We should at least have access to the resources we need
For £9,000, one would assume that all academic costs should be covered. Whilst science or engineering subjects might have state-of-the-art laboratories or specialist equipment included in these fees, humanities students, among others, are left to feel short changed.
We’re not asking for free pens or paper, but we should at least have access to the resources we need.The increasingly independent projects that humanities students undertake throughout the course of their degree limits the use of the books in the library.
Whilst tutors ensure the library is stocked up on the key texts in their areas in order to support their courses, by encouraging us to develop independent research skills, it becomes harder to find that perfect book you need on the library shelves or by trawling through the online catalogue.
My tutor directed me to inter-library loans to source the specific books I needed, only to find out that it would cost me £13 per book, as funding was only available to final year students. Yet, this funding only allows students a maximum of five inter-library loans in their final year, an amount which is entirely inadequate for students writing their dissertations and who often require source material from other libraries.
Schemes such as the ‘I Want One Of Those’ and Library Champions need to be promoted
Another tutor strongly recommended purchasing copies of two key texts, despite them already being in the library. The cheapest I could find them was for £40 second-hand on Amazon. So even though the resource is available to me, I was expected to spend on top of my tuition fees. Admittedly, there is only one copy of one of the texts in the library, but surely this indicates the need for more copies rather than the need for individuals to buy new books each term.
The disparity between expectation and reality of humanities students spending a large chunk of their student loan on books is highlighted by the newly launched ‘course cost checker’ on the Guild website, which fails to indicate the possibility of spending money on books for courses such as English and History.
For these reasons, I would propose utilising the library and its schemes for ordering books to build up its resources for future use, as well as donating books that students have bought when finished with them. By having a better stocked library with increased digital resources, the need for students to spend extra money on books would be reduced year on year. Schemes such as the ‘I Want One Of Those’ and Library Champions need to be promoted and used consistently by students to ensure the library catalogue has what we need in order for us to get the most out of our £9,000.