Letter: Reluctant lecturers

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The Independent Online
Sir: I must come to the support of Helen Winnifrith's courageous article ('Lessons for our lecturers', 23 June), which for once viewed the situation from the students' perspective. It is quite true that the tutorial system has been abolished in many departments. Some departments have countered the increase in student numbers with a considerable reduction in the number of seminars and lectures.

Furthermore, hardly any teaching takes place during the third term, due to exams. Anything between four and 12 contact hours per week is an average workload for a lecturer. Students are often discouraged from writing essays. I know of one case where a lecturer told students that a few lines on a piece of paper would suffice to receive a mark. (The students actually protested.)

Things are even worse for postgraduate students. Some lecturers collect PhD students like trophies and thus supervise up to 12 students. In such cases, four to five supervisions per year are normal (the fees are pounds 2,350 per annum) and such supervisors often don't find the time to (re)read even the primary literature.

Helen Winnifrith's article points us in the direction of very necessary change.

Yours sincerely,


London, NW6

28 June