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The Independent Online
From Matthew Caines Dear Madam: I am in my final year at Middlesex University. For three years my fellow students and I have been lucky to see a tutor once a term. All last year I had one tutorial, lasting 20 minutes. Gone are the days when teachers wereemployed to teach. A perverse philosophy reigns whereby students are left in cramped, freezing-cold workspaces to create paintings, sculptures etc. for weeks on end without any support from the staff.

If they lose heart and decide not to attend, the teachers claim it is not worth organising classes as there is no one around. It's a Catch-22.

Many are forced out of college because it cannot provide workspaces, let alone such luxuries as a decent life room and a model each day.

I have been waiting for a studio space since September, and have just received one now that there are two weeks left in the autumn term.

On inquiring how much time my tutor could give me on my thesis before the deadline in February, I was told half an hour in December, plus half an hour in January. As someone who hasn't written seriously for 10 years, I was horrified.

Is this what I gave up my job for? Looking forward to my graduation next summer, owing money to the Student Loan Company and the bank, having put my wife and daughter through five years of poverty, I ask myself, did the experience of art college stretch my intellect, introduce me to new ideas and art methods? Did it inspire me?

The answer is a resounding "no". Everything my friends and I have learnt in this time we have learnt among ourselves.

Yours sincerely, MATTHEW CAINES Bethnal Green London, E2

Mark your letters `For Publication' and include daytime and evening telephone numbers. Send them to the Education Editor, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.

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