Survey shows disparity in university workloads

Undergraduate degrees in the sciences can require as much as double the workload of degrees in the arts, an Opinion Panel survey published last month has revealed.
Medicine, dentistry, agriculture and engineering average the highest weekly workload at around twenty hours, whilst sociology, english literature, history and philosophy require the lowest, averaging just below ten hours.

The survey, which polled fifteen thousand first and second-year students around the country also exposed worrying discrepancies in the number of 1sts and 2:1s awarded by English universities.

This means that among students of similar ability, some can spend significantly more time working for their degrees than others, and be faced with a lower chance of achieving a 1st or a 2:1.

For example, Engineering students at University College London have a similar average UCAS points figure to those at Warwick (366.6 and 389.6 respectively), but while those at UCL work over ten hours a week longer, those at Warwick are around twenty per cent more likely to be awarded a high class of degree.

York, however, whose entrants typically hold high UCAS points, awards a large proportion of 1sts and 2:1s with comparatively low work-hours.

Workloads at Oxford and Cambridge are comparatively high across the board, but the percentage of students awarded 1sts or 2:1s by Oxbridge are similar to those of Durham, Bristol, Warwick and York; whose graduates are, according to the Cambridge career office, equally likely to find good careers. Of this, Gordon Chesterman, the director of the Cambridge careers office, said “the world of employment is a much more level playing field now.”

By Nicky Woolf

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