Please attend carefully

March 4, 2010

I was surprised to see poor attendance and the associated failures in assessment being offered as reasons to restrict access to higher education ("Wise up to the naked truth", 25 February). This argument seems to ignore the context in which young people receive their university education.

Today's 18-year-olds must balance a greater number of competing demands than those of us who were educated in the 1980s or 1990s. Most must spend time on paid work. Many live at home, with attendant family demands and friendship ties that may separate them from their studies. There are also far more electronic distractions than ever intruded on earlier generations.

We must either assume that students can be entirely self-motivated or we need to work to make attendance a higher priority. We should begin a discussion on the extent to which universities can mandate attendance in an era when "customer satisfaction" seems to drive policy. What is not acceptable is to blame either the inadequacy of students or lecturers.

Liz Morrish, Nottingham Trent University.

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