Six months ago, I sat down at my desk in good-old Ranmoor, ready to sift through the second-year module handbook in order to calculate exactly how I wanted the next year to unfold. Fast forward to one week before freshers’, and I received an email which notified me of a sudden module cancellation. Safe to say it was not the most reassuring situation to be in, just moments before term was to begin.
Left feeling not only baffled but extremely frustrated, the fact that we are paying hugely inflated prices for this service, (the standard fee is £9,250 a year, although international students can be charged much more), is a truth which begs the question; is university a rip-off?
The way I see it, we are paying for a service. If I was to place a supermarket food delivery (of course, being a student, I wouldn’t but let’s roll with it) and my favourite mango and passion fruit squash was unavailable, I would no doubt receive something along the lines of orange squash as a replacement. If a replacement could not be offered, I would naturally receive my money back – no problems.
With regards to my experience of module cancellations, no replacement was offered. Rather, we were told to choose between two modules which were already on offer and therefore would have been our seventh or eighth preference at the time of module choice. The situation was starting to look like it belonged on an episode of Rip-Off Britain.
Degree programmes with optional modules are supposedly designed in such a way as to allow students to specialise in an area which most interests them. Departments encourage students to choose modules with varying assessment criteria, be it essays, exams or presentations. In this respect, I felt very much like the degree which I had been so confidently promised was starting to morph into something else entirely.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; the departments are not our enemies here and indeed, they do not wish to cancel modules. However, I do believe that we have every right as students to be frustrated when no appropriate replacement is offered, because that is when the sinking feeling hits us that the £9,250 we pay simply isn’t worth it.