Are evening lectures on the rise?

Most people dread receiving their new timetables only to find out that they’ve got a 5 pm lecture that goes on into the night. If you find that annoying, what about checking out your timetable for next semester, only to find that you’ve got a seminar or lecture scheduled at 7 pm, or even later? This is becoming a reality for students up and down the country, as more and more lectures are being scheduled later in the day, even into the evenings. The question many affected students are asking is why these new adjustments to the standard school day are being enforced, as well as how this may affect other students in the future.

These changes to official teaching hours at several universities have come following regulations being lifted which previously controlled the number of students that universities can admit per year. This, coupled with an increase in the number of students applying for university, indicates why universities are having to stretch out teaching hours. Findings by UCAS indicate that English students were 1.1% more likely to apply this year than in 2017, with 37.4% of school leavers choosing to apply for university this year. This means that universities are taking higher numbers of students than ever before, resulting in larger class sizes, more frequent sessions, and most controversially, classes that go into the early evening.

The effects that these changes can have on student morale can be severe, and the new changes have been worrying students who already have long days at university, such as students in STEM or medicinal subjects, who according to the 2018 HEPI Student Experience Survey, can be handling workloads of around 46 or more hours a week, and even the lowest workloads – stemming from Business and Administrative studies – still clock in at around 25 hours of study per week.

These new changes have only been enforced in a handful of universities so far, including Lancaster and Kings College London; however, they have been met with anguish by many, resulting in a number of these institutions coming to defend their decisions. The University of Lancaster defended the changes, adding that ‘there is pressure on our current teaching timetable – which is likely to remain until new facilities are built’, giving hope to students that the extended teaching hours may only be a temporary measure.

These practices have called into question universities’ abilities to cope in the long term, with even the Universities minister Sam Gyimah being critical of the current state of universities in the UK, believing that a number of courses can even be considered ‘threadbare’ in terms of their material and the opportunities they offer for students after they graduate.
Whether these new changes will become more widespread is yet to be decided, but they are worrying to a number of students, especially those entering university for the first time in the coming weeks.

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