The Sunderland Echo reports that economics and history students receive on average less than half the teaching time of those studying physics, despite typically paying the same amount in tuition fees, new research shows.
A new study calculates that economics undergraduates receive the equivalent of around 26 hours of one-to-one contact time over a three-year course.
The findings come at a time when tuition fees are once again in the spotlight and are likely to spark fresh debate about whether students are getting value for money from their degree course.
The new study, by Mike Peacey of the New College of the Humanities and Gervas Huxley of Bristol University, argues that the amount students pay in tuition fees makes no difference to how much teaching they receive.
The authors came up with a new measure, TEACH, to compare teaching time in three different subjects – economics, history and physics – using data obtained from 67 UK universities under freedom of information laws.
“Clearly, some students are receiving much better value for money than others. For a market to function properly, participants must be able to compare what is offered by different providers. The enormous variation in teaching intensity found in our data strongly suggests that in the market for teaching price signals are weak,” the authors said.
The paper comes just weeks after the Government announced plans to assess teaching quality at UK universities by subject, giving each subject at each university a rating. The move is part of a bid to give would-be students more information about courses.
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