Students packed in like sardines–used as cash cows

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Birmingham University students – opposed to overcrowded lectures

REPORTS have emerged of students, despite paying thousands of pounds in fees a year for their tuition, are forced to sit on the floor in super-sized lectures. Since the cap on university admissions has come off, university management is packing students in like sardines, as each is worth £9,250 a head.

This includes students who win a place to study at the prestigious Russell Group universities.

Thea Powell, a 20-year-old final year English student at the University of Bristol, described how her seminars were so large that it ‘feels like being in a classroom back at school’.

She was told her personal tutor would be her ‘guardian’ throughout her degree but in fact found it ‘impossible’ to get hold of him. ‘I could have completely fallen off the wagon, academically speaking, and he probably would have no idea,’ she said.

It was a similar story for Anna Suffolk, a finalist at the University of Birmingham, who described lectures as ‘crowding a couple of hundred people in a room and putting on a PowerPoint’. She said there were occasions where some people ‘had to sit on someone’s lap, sit on the floor or sit on the stairwell’.

Summer Goodkind, who has just graduated from the University of Nottingham, described ‘packed’ lecture theatres where people ‘had to sit on the floor at the back, with their laptops on their knees and in gaps on the stairs’. She also described her ‘super-size seminars’ one of which had around 30 students.

In the past decade, members of the Russell Group have increased their first-year undergraduate intake at triple the rate of other universities, with some institutions growing by over 60 per cent in size overall.

Sir Anthony Seldon, a former vice-Chancellor at the University of Buckingham said: ‘Some universities have simply got too big to manage, they are not in touch with their students enough or their faculty.

‘There has been too much greed for numbers, numbers meant more money but it wasn’t thought through. Some at the top have had it too easy and they are now reaping what they have sown in terms of size.’

The number of students at university used to be tightly controlled by the government. But when tuition fees were tripled to £9,000 in 2012, the cap on numbers began to be lifted by the government, initially only for students with grades AAB and above at A-level. Within three years, the cap had been lifted altogether.