Studying. Do the figures add up?

by reestheskin on 17/04/2014

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Two items in the THE caught my eye. The first reporting on old data said:

 Hepi found that in medicine and dentistry, for example, students at the hardest-working university put in an average of 49.8 hours a week, compared with 32.7 hours at the university with the lowest workloads (the figures include timetabled and private study).

The figures for some other disciplines were as follows:

business and administration, 39.2 and 15.9 hours; history and philosophy, 44.6 and 19.3 hours; and biological sciences, 46.3 and 20.2 hours.

Not certain what I believe. But then a few pages on, in an article on Birbeck College, University of London, we read:

Part-time degrees over three years are also attractive because those doing the courses are eligible for maintenance loans, worth up to £7,751 a year in London next year, unlike traditional part-time students, Professor Latchman said.
….
But how can a student complete a degree over three years on a part-time basis, sometimes while holding down a full-time job, when others are full time over the same period?
Professor Latchman believes Birkbeck’s three-year cohort are sacrificing socialising. “Part of the experience of going to university is maturing and having a good time – that is what our students are losing,” he said. Birkbeck has also put many more lectures online to intensify the study experience, he added. Nonetheless, are there enough hours in the day for the three-year students to take classes and remain in full-time work?

There is a lot to think about here—if you have the time of course. In medicine we also have a rather bizarre way of using time as some sort of measure of learning, or even of what is to be learned. So, in university X the students do so many weeks of a particular clinical discipline, whereas in university Y, the allocations can be wildly different. Ironically, much as we talk about competency, knowledge is measured in ‘allocated weeks’, irrespective of the amount of content to be acquired or the type of teaching provided. Or of course what sort of exposure is most appropriate. As they say, TIJABP, but maybe if I could skip the day job, I could think it through a little more.

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