Student charter to make universities set degree standards

AFS Team·15 December 2011·3 min read
Student charter to make universities set degree standards
Universities are expected to give students better value for money if they charge higher tuition fees, according to David Willetts. The Universities minister claims British students are ‘frustrated’ by the low person-to-person study time they gain from lectures and tutorials. To redress the balance, universities will have to draw up a personal contract with students that guarantees study support, like feedback from tutors, the number of hours of lectures and accommodation standards. The minister insists universities will have to benchmark their services and give students guaranteed rights if they want to charge more money. Speaking at a Higher Education Policy Institute conference in London, Willetts said: "You put together contact hours and times of private study, and you do appear to find that hours of study for students in the UK appear to be below the average in other European countries." The minister revealed a government study showed British students were more likely to put in extra effort while studying for a degree than those in Europe. The latest figures highlighted that undergraduates in Britain are given an average of 30 lecture or tutorial hours every week, compared with 42 hours in France and 36 hours in Germany. Willetts said: "On the face of it, it does appear that some universities are not very demanding on their students. "If anything, what we have got here is students who appear to want more educational input, and are being frustrated by the educational input they are receiving." His comments are response to widespread criticism that despite tuition fees soaring from the current £3,290 a year in England to a maximum £,9,000 a year from 2012, students were not likely to pick up any benefits from paying the extra money. Taking the 30 hour a week person-to-person average over a 39 week academic year, students are expected to pay £7.69 an hour from 2012 compared to £2.81 now without any increase in education standards. The issues of tuition fees and learning standards are expected to be covered in new legislation scheduled for the summer.