What was all the hard work for?


TBH:A parent writes: My son did a very good Leaving Cert, but it was hard won. He needed to get 500 points to be sure of getting the course he wanted in university. He’s a pretty determined young man but it still took a lot of input and encouragement from us, his parents, to keep him at the desk throughout sixth year and to get the result he needed.

He got his degree course, which is in the area of law, and he was delighted. However, since he started in September we are all wondering what all the hard work was for. My son is not challenged by the course at all. He developed a very good study habit in sixth year but now he just spends much of his time at home, or floating around on campus waiting for the next lecture.

He has about 17 hours of contact time with lecturers each week and they are spread out over the course of the week, sometimes with three or four hours between lectures.

We live a good distance from the college, so he has to spend more than two hours a day commuting — sometimes for one lecture.

Of course, you could argue that he should go to the library between lectures but there is a lot of distraction on campus. It is also very expensive to hang around on a Dublin campus where food and sustenance is not cheap.

As for the holidays, well they’re just ridiculous. He had a full month off for Christmas. He’ll only be back a few weeks and they’ll be off again for a “reading week” (actually two weeks).

What are the universities playing at? These academics are well-paid and they should not be getting these kinds of holidays. The students certainly don’t need them. My son established a good study pattern in school and it’s falling apart.

In my view the college schedule should, as far as possible, mirror the schedule of a working adult – nine to five with two or three weeks holidays a year, so that they don’t slip into bad habits that follow them into the workplace.

I don’t believe that any of these hours and weeks of free time are designed to serve the students. They are designed to serve the lecturers who should be putting in a lot more time, for the good money we pay them, to challenge the students they serve.

This column is designed to give a voice to those within the education system who wish to speak out anonymously. Contributions are welcome at sflynn@irishtimes.com