What could I buy with £9,250? I couldn’t buy a car, but considering my lack of a license and the small insignificant detail of having failed my test four times, I’m okay with that. I couldn’t buy a house, but who the heck can nowadays? But I could buy my course books, El Balneario and La Familia de Pascual Duarte 237 times. I’m basing this on Amazon prices, but it’s not as if Blackwell’s is going to give me a better deal.
The fact of the matter is that these are core books. I mean that very literally, I couldn’t do the course without them. But I am forced every term to spend upwards of £30 on books and I’m starting to lose the plot. Even STEM and CEMPS students buy massive course books for obscene amounts of money, which they might only look at once.
I should not have to spend money to get ahead in my degree
I expect more from what I hear is a prestigious University. I should not have to spend money to get ahead in my degree. The fact is having the core books, especially for literature where they are a constant reference, represents a marked advantage over students who can’t afford the indulgence of a £25 book. It is a small part of a bigger endemic of elitism, why should the university exacerbate that by not giving us access to books we need?
I am fully aware that my degree consists of a glorified library card, for all the good it does me. My books are constantly out and being requested. Does the university realistically expect me to find all my quotes, fully references for my 2,500-word essay in a week? And despite the university boasting that most of our resources are online, it’s not realistic to spend days staring at a computer screen, unable to annotate, highlight or make notes.
I feel that the University has become detached from what it means to be a student and forgets the importance of having your own copies of course books. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic, but I sent my mum a PDF of a book I needed and she printed it for me and sent it back in the post. It was funnier still when I was told that it was not an adequate reference for my summative essay.
The module in question that tipped me over the edge, is an interesting one, with a tutor who offered me his copy of the book so that I could sufficiently study the intersections of gender and violence without the stress of an 83-page word document. But he can’t do this for everyone, and I’m often bowled over by the kindness of tutors in understanding the need for physical copies of books.
I’m either paying for books with money I don’t have or reading off a screen ’till my eyes turn square
Alas, some bureaucrat in accounting has made it so that I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place; either paying for books with money I don’t have or finding online copies and reading off a screen ’till my eyes turn square. Give humanities students a break, we’re not getting value for money for our investment, everybody knows it, and we don’t even get the books to help us out.
Surely, students should have the opportunity to be reimbursed for the printing of course books, or their purchase online, if nothing else. It’s the most basic compromise for humanities students and I don’t think it’s too much to ask.
Let’s be honest, it’s never worth the money. The books are usually dirt boring, but they often make good doorstops. So, what do I get for £9,250? Evidently not the very basic resources I need to pass the course, but other than that the £27,750 investment is totally worth it, right?