Quality, not quantity

May 24, 2012

Under the headline "Three times the cost but same timetable" (News, 17 May), Times Higher Education analyses the recent Higher Education Policy Institute report The Academic Experience of Students at English Universities. The report highlights contact hours (ie, the quantity of teaching), whereas one might have expected it to focus on the quality of university education.

Average contact time (about 14 hours a week) seems not to have changed much since I was an undergraduate almost 50 years ago, but, apropos the quality of university education, isn't student learning more important than the hours of scheduled teaching?

Whatever happened to the notion of students reading for degrees, and recognising that the hours spent in private study are almost certainly more important than time-tabled hours of formal tuition?

Spoon-feeding students who are ill-equipped for independent study is not the proper role of universities.

Richard M.S. Wilson, Emeritus professor, Loughborough University

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