The University essay feedback forms, originally designed to facilitate the provision of comments for tutors, have always been a source of amusement. The tick boxes are, quite frankly hilarious.
Yes, I know that 65 and over is acceptable and under 65 is not, but why does an essay deemed acceptable receive numerous ‘needs improvement’ ticks while a frankly appalling essay gets mostly ‘acceptable’s? One Politics student was entirely baffled to discover a completely blank form.
When she contacted the module leader she was told that he had no idea and that he hadn’t marked them: “could be anyone, really.” But he was the only one who taught the module? Apparently, that was not the point. This is not exactly the support one expects when paying £3,000 a year.
we do not expect a free ride but we do expect consistency
It is becoming increasingly clear that there is no correlation between good marks and good work. We are told that some modules have different standards and that is just the way it is. Accept it. However, the release of the data surveying degree classifications suggests that this is not just a problem between a few History of Art or Economics modules but an issue spanning all subjects.
As more and more people embark on higher education courses studying increasingly dubious degrees, it is difficult to escape from the fact that a university degree has become devalued. As a young academic body, we are particularly vulnerable to this. Our University must address the disparity between the percentages of people likely to get a particular degree classification if they wish to continue being seen as a reputable institution.
A degree from York should be an achievement. This is impossible if we believe that, for example, as a Music student we are entitled to a top grade or, as a Management student, it is quite unlikely that we will ever achieve a 2.1.
Hes Hall will probably point to differences in the standards of students and accuse departments of marking either too easily or too firmly. The finger will be pointed at us for expecting too much, for being greedy, and for feeling we deserve that top grade. However, this is not the case. We do not expect a free ride but we do expect consistency and fairness. At the moment, the University of York fails to offer us both.
Perhaps the real issue is that we no longer trust the University to be on our side. Recent examination issues (and the lack of action) has only confirmed this. How are we expected to trust departments when they give us an unexpected exam and tell us to just get on with it? As members of this institution, we have rights and it is time that we demanded them and the University started respecting these.