Letter: We did meet our target (2)

March 9, 2001

There should be little surprise that only 7,000 of the projected ,000 enrolments for part-time courses have been received.

Most students are part-timers: working 20 hours a week or more outside college to finance their studies.

To accommodate this, "contact time" requirements in many institutions have dropped from the 450-500 hours a year of a decade ago to 300 hours. In theory, the rest of the time is "self-directed" learning, but only the most motivated spend all their time in the library.

As a result, we see more stress among students as they juggle paid employment and study. This results in increased dropout rates and demoralised students and teachers.

There is little obvious attraction in studying part time after work, especially when one can study "full time" for little extra effort and gain qualifications in a shorter period.

Two alternatives present themselves: either we adopt an American-style mass education system, where most people "work their way through college", or we return to a fee-free intensive process where students genuinely study full time. The present system is just the worst of both worlds.

Michael F. Hopkinson

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