Medical student

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Students decide: should lectures be compulsory?

Should lectures be compulsory? And should students expect a different learning experience once tuition fees replace government subsidies for higher education? 

Does your course have compulsory lectures?
Yes 43%
No 56%

Some of your views:
: ‘We are always told that attendance is mandatory, yet any formal register is taken rarely and those who regularly fail to attend face little or no disciplinary measures.’
Leeds fourth year Jonathan Batty

No: ‘One of the best things about UCL (University College London) lectures is that they are not compulsory. As adult learners, we have the ability to read up and teach ourselves. No one should be forced to attend.’
UCL fourth year Gulrays Jamie

No: ‘At St Andrews, all lecture notes are available online for students to print off.’
St Andrews third year Emma Leighton

Yes: ‘By the time we reach medical school most of us know our best ways of learning. For me it did involve lectures, but others were always falling asleep or talking, [which] disrupts those of us who actually want to be there and learn.’
Cardiff final year Megan Lewis

Yes: ‘All lectures are compulsory supposedly (we have spot-check registers), yet we are told we are adults and should take responsibility for our learning. I would rather have a lecture with people who want to be there than have to sit through a lecture that is being disrupted by people talking.’
Norwich fourth year Katherine Read

No: ‘Small group tutorials, I believe, are a very effective way of teaching; it’s what gives the Oxbridge system its name. I believe medics across the country should benefit from this. Ultimately, it breeds better doctors and better patient care.’
Oxford second year Zain Syed

Do you think compulsory lectures are a good idea?
Yes 41%
No 46%

Some of your views:
‘Surely university students are mature enough to know how they learn best. If they manage to cover all the learning objectives and pass the exams without attending lectures, then why does it matter if they haven’t attended?’
Birmingham third year Rachel Barker

No: ‘Making lectures compulsory would only benefit those whose learning styles match the delivery of the lectures. For those who only learn sitting down with a textbook, compulsory lectures eat into valuable library time.’
King’s College London fourth year Alexander Beadel

Don’t know: ‘Surely the question should be how does a medical school make its lectures more interesting and useful so the students will go to them?’
Glasgow final year Rebecca Burman

No: ‘The quality of a lecture is dependent on the lecturer.’
Brighton third year Felice Cartz

No: ‘It would be a shame for policing tactics to be used at any medical school. Medical schools need to ensure lecture content and quality are appropriate, as there is nothing worse than a lecturer who has no passion for the subject matter.’
Peninsula final year Mohsin Choudry

No: ‘University should prepare you by giving you the skills for lifelong learning. If this means medical students need to be thrown in at the deep end and made to take responsibility for their learning, so be it. In the working world, no one is going to mollycoddle you to learn material or to make the right choices in terms of your professional development.’
Leeds fourth year Toby Greenall

Yes: ‘It is the role of medical schools to ensure that students have appropriate knowledge to be safe doctors in the future. With non-compulsory lectures, there must be extremely stringent assessments, and this is not necessarily feasible.’
Peninsula fourth year Hannah Hagan

Yes: ‘At my medical school every part of the course is compulsory. I think this is the only way medicine should be taught.’
Glasgow fourth year Steven Linnen

No: ‘Lectures suit my learning style so I choose to go to them, but I don’t think they should be made compulsory. Students are best able to decide what their learning style is.’
King’s College London third year Ebunoluwa Oluwole

No: ‘Medical students will attend lectures when they are well-taught and useful. I don’t think it’s laziness that results in missing lectures; I think it’s good time management skills — making sure we attend the teaching that is worthwhile.’
UCL final year Clare Price

No: ‘If you accept medical school as the preparation for a career of lifelong learning, where the onus is on the professional to ensure they have the knowledge and skills needed to practise safely, then it is a retrograde step to insist that students must attend lectures.’
St George’s University of London final year Rohit Silhi

No: ‘If you force a student to be there who isn’t interested, it will all go in one ear and out the other.’
Manchester third year Mustafa Yusuf

Will students paying £9,000-a-year tuition fees expect more individual tuition?
Yes 79%
No 10%

Some of your views:
‘With students paying so much for tuition, there will be an expectation of a more bespoke medical education. But what we must realise is that this increase in fees is to cover the decrease in government subsidies. While students will be paying more, medical schools will not necessarily have the resources to meet their expectations.’
Barts and the London fourth year Aaron Braddy

Yes: ‘I think students who pay the higher fees will expect a higher level of individual tuition, and they probably deserve it. The problem is that all that is happening is students are paying a higher contribution towards their fees, which are the same overall. So the actual amount of education or contact time will not actually rise.’
Belfast second year Nathan Cantley

No: ‘In comparison with other degrees, our directed teaching time is far greater, yet we pay the same.’
Peninsula final year Emma Froment

Yes: ‘It is probable that students will see medical school as more of an investment, looking to medical schools that offer more value for money. While some students would prefer small-group teaching, others may believe that the opportunity to learn independently is more valuable.’
St Andrews second year Alicia Pawluk

Yes: ‘If I had to pay £9,000 for tuition, I would expect to get good-quality teaching that provided me with a balance of class and small-group teaching. The most important thing would be to receive constructive individual feedback.’
Dundee final year Carina Tham

Yes: ‘Unfortunately, the increasing commodification of university will lead to increased demands for spoon-feeding, and even more apathetic consumers who will have to be locked into the lecture theatre in order to learn anything.’
Sheffield second year Robin Walsh

Don’t know: ‘I’m not sure if students will expect more individual tuition, but they may be much more critical of the quality of the teaching they receive.’
Imperial College London final year Martin Wong