Queen's shifts focus from 'nine-to-five' studies

October 16, 2008

Academics in Northern Ireland face much tougher teaching duties as they cope with a long-term slump in the number of traditional full-time students, it was warned this week.

The province is expecting the worst demographic downturn within the UK, with vice-chancellors projecting a 13.2 per cent fall in the number of full-time undergraduates by 2019-20.

Tony Gallagher, head of the School of Education at Queen's University Belfast, said there would be an increase in the number of part-time students across the university, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and that the university would have to move away from "nine-to-five thinking".

"There is going to be a greater imperative in every school to engage in part-time study," he said.

The School of Education had successfully developed concentrated two-and-a-half day "packets" of study in its taught doctorate, and was now focusing on short-burst masters modules. "For staff, it's generally seen as very tough to do, because you're having to concentrate for extended periods of time," he said. "But it's very, very rewarding, and just about everybody who works on it enjoys it."

Queen's has recently experienced an increase in recruitment to its part-time general undergraduate degree, which until now had been in long-term decline. Professor Gallagher speculated that the credit crunch might lead to more people studying while staying in work.

"At the moment, the degree operates on traditional evening classes. But if this is the start of a new trend, we would want to think about innovation there as well," he said.

He added that the priority in the School of Education was to ensure that the part-time student experience was as good as could be and as close as possible to that of a traditional student.

"We're trying to get the entire system to move away from the nine-to-five type of thinking."

olga.wojtas@tsleducation.com

MEANS-TESTING MOOTED IN WALES

The blanket tuition fee discount for Welsh undergraduates studying in Wales should be scrapped in favour of a means-tested system, a leaked report has recommended.

Welsh students at Welsh universities currently pay £1,255 in fees compared with more than £3,000 paid by those studying at most English universities.

A task force headed by Merfyn Jones, the vice-chancellor of the University of Bangor, has recommended that a means-tested grant replace the discount, which costs £61 million a year, the BBC reported. It proposes that the most disadvantaged students be given up to £6,000 as a direct grant to be spent on maintenance or tuition fees.

The group, which was set up in June by the Welsh Assembly, also wants the £15,000 threshold income for student loan repayment to rise to £18,000-£20,000.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 10 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Elly Walton illustration (7 July 2016)

Researchers in the liberal arts seem to have made it their mission to communicate in the most obscure fashion, says Zachary Foster

Daniel Mitchell illustration (14 July 2016)

Frank Furedi says the mournful mood on campus and the disparagement and silencing of Leave supporters betray an isolated scholarly class

Michael Parkin illustration (7 July 2016)

Rising immigration-related costs and lack of employer support send an unwelcoming message to international staff, says Jason Danely

Female Brazilian football/soccer fan celebrating with flag of Brazil, Best universities in Latin America

Brazil leads Times Higher Education’s debut ranking of the top universities in Latin America

Child drives miniature car into people

Smaller, newer alternative providers are less likely to pass higher education review, analysis says