Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Apparently £3000/yr aint enough

3rd December, 2009

This is the first in a series of posts by our new guest author Josh. Check out his website, and his Twitter.

Now firstly let me say this, I am a hardworking student, and I want an awesome degree grade, very badly. However, I will not pay a lecturer any money over what I already am paying to be educated.

‘Why not?’ you may ask.

Well because each year my course places me £3000.00+ deeper in debt, and to be succinct: I think that’s enough. So my audience of enthralled readers imagine my amazement upon receiving an E-Mail several months ago, informing me of a “required” course text for a certain module. That’s not recommended, oh no, it’s “required” and whats key here, is that this module is taught by the author of that same book.

I would’ve deleted this E-Mail in seconds and not given it a further moments thought, had there not been that one word - “required”. But sadly, the lecturer of the module has chosen to include this word, and thereby furnish their own pocket to some extent.

The result has been a very negative view of the module in question by me and many other students, who resent paying tuition fees at the best of times. And who certainly resent being forced to purchase expensive university texts, when so many other free options exist.

As noted by Chris in an earlier post of his (click to read) (#729), a very viable option would be to furnish the library with the required number of books. I know this module has 170+ students enrolled, and one could argue the point of: ‘that’s too many books to store’. However I think room could be found, after all surely no-one in the loop would expect money to change hands?

170 texts is nothing to a publisher, and the publicity would be excellent for all involved… though admittedly in such a system the lecturers wouldn’t receive their loyalty cheques. Another concept raised by Chris, is the idea of providing a free ‘.pdf’ version of the document, surely also acceptable to all involved?

There is a final point that magnifies my disgust at this whole experience, firstly some background; The content of this module loosely focuses on the ethics of technology and as a result, during a lecture on copyrighting, the lecturer made extensive reference to Google Books. Now, you’ll never guess what… well, you probably will guess what: the book “required” for this module is available on Google Books itself.

Admittedly, not in its complete form, but the bulk of the information is largely intact, and available for free. I do somewhat boggle at the audacity of a person who would not mention the availability of their works through a free and legal (at time of writing) online resource, to a group of students.

To close this blog post, (which is most certainly one of my rants), I would like to reference a polar opposite experience of mine, which occurred in the same university term. There is another lecturer whom I receive tutorship from once a week, they are also a published author. When this second lecturer made reference to his texts, he knowingly indicated that versions could be found online, with little effort entirely for free. I personally believe that this is how lecturers should present their available course texts.