I am on an Arts and Humanities course. We are often deemed the laziest of the lazy due to our minimal contact hours (contact hours being the time we spend face to face with a tutor on the university site). I have 5 contact hours per week, and I'm the first to admit that for £9,000 it feels like a little bit of a rip off. However, what a lot of people fail to consider is all the work that we have to do on our own around those 5 hours.
On my course we are told we should be expected to work for 50 hours a week.
I'll let that sink in for a moment.
For people in full time employment, the working time directive states that no person has to work more than 48 hours per week (although they can chose to work more). Already, students are expected to work two more hours each week than most adults in a full time job.
University is expensive. I've already mentioned that our tuition fees are £9,000 per year, but that doesn't take into consideration the cost of living. For bills and rent alone I spend over £300 per month. Food shops vary, but often that will be another £100 per month (not including alcohol). The government provides between £3,500 and £7,000 to cover living costs (a combination of maintenance loans and grants).
Personally, the loan I get doesn't cover the cost of my rent, bills and home insurance. Having a part time job is essential if I want to be able to support myself.
You're expected to work 16 hours per week for most part time jobs. Already that has pushed the potential working week up to 66 hours.
To say that all arts and humanities students will be given a work load that requires them to work 50 hours per week each week would be stretching the truth a tad. However, from personal experience I can comfortably state that some weeks I have worked well over 50 hours in module prep alone, so my actual university working week is around 60 hours. My friends were recently told by a seminar leader that the amount of work he set them to do would have taken around 30 hours. That was for one of the two modules we have and is in addition to the in-class work. If their other module had also given this work load, if they had also had a part time job, their working week had the potential to be 80 hours.
Students do not have it easy when it comes to work load.
For most people, university isn't just about furthering their education, it's also about the social life. As ridiculous as it might sound, it is time consuming to maintain a group of friends, and social life could easily be counted as work time. I don't even want to think about how much that would increase the average student working week.
This isn't to mention the fact that for most students this is their first time away from home, their first time having a run a home. Housework is time consuming. Cooking is time consuming (especially when you're still working things out).
We're also meant to be thinking about our future, applying for graduate jobs and looking for internships (mostly unpaid) to fill our 'holidays' with. In my holiday I have a 5,000 word essay to research and write. I'm meant to do a full time internship alongside that?
We're also meant to live a healthy life- often the first thing that goes out of the window, often the reason why students will turn up groggy to seminars with a bag of chips and a can of Monster, often the reason why students are branded as lazy because they don't look as if they could be productive.
The long and the short of all this is: Give. Students. A. Break. We're not always perfect, sometimes we spend way too long scrolling through the depths of the internet and not doing work, maybe we didn't have to go out three times in the past week, but we do work hard.
Students aren't lazy, but we are exhausted.