New ends old beginnings

February 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm Leave a comment

A new year, new possibilities.

However, I am going to start of the new year to complain. We do like to complain, I like to. But I’ll do it now and not again.

Being a Master student is expensive, both time and cost-wise. Looking at it from a user perspective the user can have many needs. For instance, does the University offer value for the money you pay, are their facilities satisfying, are the LRC resources good, do you receive enough support from lecturers and academic staff, does the academic prospects and learning outcome as described by the university match your experience? And so on.

I would like to write about some of my experiences as a user of the University I am studying at.

First of all I can mention that I really enjoy the course I am on. It is challenging and diverse and will give me good practical and theoretical experiences to bring on into my career. But I am less satisfied with other things:

The other day I had a class where we had to leave the lecture room because of too loud noises from construction builders. And they are all over the site. In December our lecture room had not been heated so we were sitting fully dressed inside, still shivering and freezing cold.

During Christmas I wanted to check my timetable for the coming term and logged on to my online information page where I could access my online timetable. This proved to show incorrect information, lacking information and information that shouldn’t even be there. Not to mention that there is one page to log on for personal details and timetables, one for study material and one overall information page. Confusing. My admin doesn’t seem to know why the timetable info is incorrect and told me to rely on a hard-copy timetable handed out at the beginning of the year, which was the valid one. But what about when you just don’t have it available. As a user of their service I am used to nearly all study material and module info being shared online, why can’t such an important thing as my timetable be available in a digital format too?

On the course information that I read in advance it said for the lectures to take place in weekly sessions and some weekend seminars. Arriving at Uni in October I was informed that I had one of the joint programmes scheduled only for weekend sessions, 9am-6pm long sessions, allthough not every weekend. One concern for me is that most students wish to apply for part-time jobs which are usually weekend jobs. The fact that the lecture are 9 hrs long does not seem to offer the best possible learning environment. It is very, very hard to stay focused for such a long time. Not to mention one of the classes where more than a 100 students were sitting in the same room, crammed together, for 9 hrs. Since these modules are thought on 9hr sessions it is really unfortunate to miss out on a class.

This term it so happened that one class clashed with the other part of my joint degree and had to be re-scheduled. This was something that several students inquired about already in the beginning of the course. Sadly, the admin only managed to re-schedule 10 days in advance when I had already confirmed with my workplace that I was available. That day i was working for 7 hrs, missing out on a 9hr class which costs a lot of money. For those who pay International Fees the price is very high. Admin from both courses had known about this since October, why did they not manage do solve it before?

This also reminds me about my application procedure which was a hassle in itself. I mailed letters, e-mailed letters and called to locate my application status. No one seemed to be able to give me a straight answer, or in fact find any of my previous letters, not even those sent from my referees. I spoke to so many offices and what eventually happened was that no one took responsibility and just blamed the other offices.

A major part of the course work we do is through written assignments in the shape of essays. Usually each school will have different requirements for submissions, however on my course each lecturer have different requirements. This is anything from how to actually write and format the essay to what style of referencing system they wish for you to use and how to set up a bibliography. Apparently there are different versions of Harvard style referencing. This is really confusing and as the standards vary from exhaustive and detailed directions to little or none it is really challenging to keep up with what is expected. I am not sure if I as a Master student is again back to Ba level where I am told what to do  to every single little detail or if I am now at a level where it is expected from me to make my own choices and approaches.

Finally, I have now been waiting 12 weeks for an assignment return where the information has been minimal about the delay. The policy is 4 weeks and we’re now at the third cycle, still no results. If I hand in late I receive a 50% cap for penalty on my work.

Studying at a masters level you are expected to be flexible, professional and to deliver work of a high academic standard. You will be expected to have a pro-active and conscientious approach to your learning. I am really unhappy that the same approach expected from us is not returned in some aspects of the service I’m investing my money in. I’m spending so much money, money that is not mine, borrowed money. My degree is 12 months only and we have few taught sessions, my time here is precious and invaluable. I don’t have the time to chase and investigate about all the things that are not working as they should, that’s a vaste of my valuable time here.

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