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Survey: Students only work 28 hours a week

Students use an average of just 28 hours a week on their studies, according to a new, but already disputed, survey. Debate on how the University of Copenhagen is to get new students to finish their studies faster

The government wants universities to take on more students, so that 25 percent of each year group complete a degree. At the same time, students of the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) have to complete their degrees in 7.6 months less time than in the past, or the University is set to lose DKK 300 million in government funding.

And to make it a little more difficult, all new graduates have to be ‘world class’ and their education has to be based on ‘excellent, top research’.

This was the theme of a symposium, entitled ‘Mass Universitites, Study Progress Reforms and World Class’, arranged by the Academic Council at the Faculty of Science 15 January.

Different study culture needed

Students spend an average of 28 hours a week on their studies, according to the survey, yet a full-time course is set to 40 hours – the time estimated that students should use to complete modules and pass exams worth 60 ECTS points per year.

In other words, UCPH’s students aren’t doing enough. And that’s a problem, according to several members of the debate panel and the audience.

“If we want people to complete their studies faster, they need to be spending 40 hours per week on their studies. That will require a different study culture to be introduced early on in their course,” Thomas Vils Pedersen, lecturer at the Department of Mathematics, said.

Biased survey?

The low average weekly hours are taken from the Study Environment Survey, the full results of which will be made public on 21 January. The survey is based on questionnaire given to students in November and December of 2013. However, as subsequent commenters have noted; in the survey, respondents were not asked to state how many ECTS points they are signed up for in the relevant semester. This would introduce a bias towards a lower estimate of student work time.

“The calculation that shows that students only “work” 28 hours a week, is based on a premise that all respondents are signed up for 30 ECTS-points. Yet there can be many reasons for not being signed up for 30 ECTS-points,” says Mads Feodor Nilsson on Danish site pointing to parents’ leave and jobs.

At the debate session, Mie Sofie Andersen, Chairman of the Student Council, said that UCPH instead had to prepare to solve problems related to the fact that students have been admitted in greater numbers: “A quarter of our generation is to go university, and we are more of us, and more diverse. That mean that there are new standards that education, study environment and student guidance must meet,” she said. “The framework has to be right, and courses have to be structured so that students will want to engage with them on a full-time basis.”

1 in 10 takes a degree

Prorector Lykke Friis pointed out that UCPH has implemented a minimum lesson time of 12 hours a week from this year already. UCPH’s administration also approved the new Study Environment Strategy on 10 December last year, which highlights several focus points that can help UCPH be an attractive place to be to ‘develop and realise one’s talent’.

Lykke Friis also said she is prepared to discuss whether UCPH is to take on more students or not in the future, though she did emphasise that this is still debated within management.

UCPH currently takes on approximately 10 percent from each year’s youth cohort, corresponding to about 7,000 new bachelor students per year.

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