Formal complaint lodged against the Economics department exam procedure for second year running

For the second year running a group of students have lodged a formal complaint against the Economics department’s exam procedure, following their Microeconomics paper at the start of this term. The students, who have approached the Board of Studies and are still unsatisfied with the outcome, are claiming that their exam paper was “deliberately misleading”, that the module was poorly taught, and that many of them had to pay for private tutoring in addition to their seminars and lectures.

One second-year student told Nouse that in one of the questions “the symbol for Wealth and Endowments were really very similar and seemed designed to trick people”, and that “pretty much everyone I know has had private tuition for this”, commenting that supervisors “didn’t seem to care” about many of the students’ concerns with the module.

Peter Spencer, Head of the Board of Studies for Economics, has since spoken to Nouse, saying that “students brought this [matter] to our Board Of Studies” and that the department had “a long discussion with the student representatives there.” He continued to say that the issue was given “a full and serious discussion” but that he “can’t remember what the conclusion was”, adding that “as far as [he was] concerned, there are no plans for change”.

One of the main complaints of the students is that notation used in their lectures and seminars was especially difficult for those doing combined studies. “For people who didn’t have a Maths background it might as well have been French,” commented one PPE student.

Economics issues

Jan ‘09: Third-year Economics students are forced to wait for results after exam scripts delay

May ‘09: Economics department ordered to conduct an investigation into its exam procedure­

June ‘09: Economics department release revised grades following strong student dissatisfaction

“There’s a difference between having a hard exam and not being able to understand it because it’s been written deliberately confusing,” she continued. “I went to see my supervisor and it was pretty much a case of ‘go and get a tutor’, but it’s such a niche area of Economics it was really difficult to find someone who could teach me what I needed to know.

“I know some guy who runs tutoring out of his house in Halifax and charges students £3 a visit,” continued a second PPE student. “I thought about going but was uncomfortable with turning up to someone’s house. My parents ended up paying lots of money for tutoring over the Easter holidays, even though I’d done loads of work.”

As well as their discontent at having to pay for extra tuition, many of the students told Nouse that they were more upset by the attitude of the Economics Department themselves. “They don’t really listen at all,” said one Politics and Economics student, saying “they should definitely change the format of the exam as there seems to be problems with it every year.”

“I know a few students who have gone to their supervisors concerned about the exam,” her friend added, “they said that they shouldn’t worry because PEP knows the Micro exam is ridiculous and often not a reflection of people’s abilities.”

5 comments

  1. 25 May ’10 at 3:47 pm

    Wannabe Malthus

    The people who complained about this exam are simply naive. You cannot expect to take up a mathematically advanced course at a highly regarded university and not face modules like this.

    As for some aspects of the course being niche, of course they were. The man teaching it pioneered the material!!

    Also the symbols for endowments and wealth were not confusing if you were rational about it. The symbols were from completely different alphabets! the wealth being an english w and the endowments being a greek lower case omega, they never even crossed paths anyway, as one was from the demand side and the other, the supply side.

    I do hope that the group of people that complained about this was a vast minority.

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  2. 25 May ’10 at 7:30 pm

    Economics student

    “I went to see my supervisor and it was pretty much a case of ‘go and get a tutor’, but it’s such a niche area of Economics it was really difficult to find someone who could teach me what I needed to know.”

    Since when was microeconomics a niche area?

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  3. School of PEP? More like school of lightweights. If you can’t take the heat stay out of L/N/028….

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  4. 25 May ’10 at 8:48 pm

    Economics Student II

    I think they should get rid of the multiple choice questions, it doesn’t establish anything. They ask purpously obscure and misleading questions so don’t give a fair reflection of people’s command of the subject seeing as to some extent you can guess your way to a good mark.

    I also find it quite funny how one lecturer insisted there was no need look at extra materials yet set questions on concepts never touched on in lectures

    On the whole quite shabby.

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  5. 22 Apr ’11 at 9:20 pm

    Champagne Conservative

    “the symbol for Wealth and Endowments were really very similar and seemed designed to trick people”

    …seriously?

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