10 questions universities don’t want to be asked at open days

Union asks students to probe institutions’ employment practices when visiting campuses

Last week, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne refused to answer when a seven-year-old boy asked him “what’s seven times eight?”

He was widely ridiculed, but are there any tricky questions that you dread potential students asking when they pay you a visit on open day? Well, you should get your answers ready, because prospective university students are being encouraged to ask difficult questions as part of a University and College Union campaign for greater transparency in higher education, launched today.

The union has produced a list of 10 questions it wants would-be undergraduates to ask. UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said that students were “bombarded by information these days”, but that so much of it was “just advertising bumf”.

“We are encouraging students to ask the questions that universities would rather they didn’t,” she said. “We need far greater transparency in the higher education sector and prospective students should exercise their critical capacities even before they join a university.”

The 10 questions universities don’t want to be asked

  1. How much of my teaching will be given by staff employed on zero-hours and temporary contracts?
  2. What is the student:staff ratio at the university?
  3. Does the university pay the living wage to all staff it employs, including staff on casual contracts?
  4. If I take a job working at the university while I am a student will I be paid the living wage?
  5. Are the open day guides who show me around paid the living wage?
  6. What is the ratio of the vice-chancellor’s salary to the pay of the lowest paid member of staff?
  7. What will the university do if proposed cuts to Disabled Students’ Allowance are implemented in 2015?
  8. Does the university want to see tuition fees rise above their current maximum of £9,000 a year?
  9. Does the university believe that student loans should be sold to a private company?
  10. What would this university do if the terms of their students’ loans changed for the worse after they had started their course?

Have you ever been asked a tricky question by a prospective student? Tweet us at @timeshighered or leave a comment below.

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Universities to scale back liberal arts and social science courses

  • David Humphries illustration (24 September 2015)

A Russell Group tagline rap is further proof that we need to reform the academy’s approach, argues Philip Moriarty

  • World University Rankings

US continues to lose its grip as institutions in Europe up their game

  • World University Rankings 2015-2016 methodology

Change for the better: fuelled by more comprehensive data, the 2015-2016 rankings probe deeper than ever

  • protest, street, march

Even in the academy, your class background will always be a factor in how you are seen, says LSE’s Lisa Mckenzie