Calm down Dahling: It’s Orwell-and-good being a scientist


Lucy Thompson on why Arts students deserve better value for money from the university

Epigram uncovered shocking statistics that arts students contribute an annual net profit of over £10 million for departments such as Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Chemistry and Physics. Arts degrees such as English contribute £5,652.80 of the £9,000 annual tuition fee towards other departments and the money is not invested in the degree programme itself. The question still remains and is a frequent grumble among Arts students - should we pay less?

In July this year, George Osbourne announced major changes to higher education, with maintenance grants to be replaced with loans from 2016 and high performing universities being allowed to increase their tuition fees in line with inflation from 2017-18.

This will affect every single student but what seems slightly unfair is that this added funding will most probably go to science labs rather than improving the arts. It is imperative that we have more transparency in regards to where our tuition fees are being invested. I showed the stats that Epigram collated last year to the arts students on my floor and they were shocked by the information that had not been made clear to them by the university.

The question still remains and is a frequent grumble among Arts students - should we pay less?

Most Arts students would concede that Science needs more funding for labs and equipment and that we should not hinder people from becoming dentists, doctors and engineers with higher fees, as the country would become over run by arts students. However, it does seem unfair that on top of a £27,000 degree with low contact hours we have the hidden costs of books.

As an English student I have just paid £60 for the crucial Norton Anthologies and my friend who is a law student bought second hand books, which still amounted to £100 before the course even began. There is a limit to what the library can provide for the hundreds of people who need the same books, so the reading lists that are issued to Arts students for different modules can become a heavy financial burden.

Although science degrees also require textbooks, they have far more contact hours than subjects such as History, Philosophy and English, which have, on average, 8 hours a week. Perhaps Arts students could have a few more contact hours to balance the disparity between art and science degrees?

Would it not be also be fair to divert at least some of the funding towards the essential books for the course? This would be particularly beneficial for students from low income backgrounds. Science dominates the highest paid graduate jobs and while it would be wrong to create an inequality at university where some students were paying more for their degrees, we need more transparency and more money paid towards the improvement of the arts.

Paying for at least a portion of the vast amount of books needed for the three years would be a start, but simply more money needs to go towards increased contact hours if we are to truly value Arts degrees.

Featured Image: Flickr/ Stewart Butterfield

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Lucy Thompson

Current Deputy Online Editor and previously the Online Living Editor.