Tutorials to be History?

first_imgModern history undergraduates have been left stunned after learning that over a fifth of their tutorials are to be axed. No students were consulted about the controversial measures, provoking an angry response from historians whose degree courses will be directly affected. Under the proposed changes, modern history students will now receive an average of less than one tutorial a week over a three-year degree course. Jonathan Edwards, the President of the Undergraduate Joint Consultative Committee for history, said, “The UJCC sees the tutorial as the foundation of the history course at Oxford, and opposes any move away from course based on tutorial teaching.” The History Faculty made the decision to cut tutorials in order to free up time for academics. Dr. Chris Haigh, chairman of the History Faculty board said, “Under current arrangements, history tutors are seriously overworked, and we have to address issues of job-satisfaction, while maintaining the quality of the student educational experience.” The news comes after the University’s History Faculty recently lost its status as the country’s leading history department. It slipped to fourth in The Times league table after losing its 5* rating for teaching and research, placing it behind city rival Oxford Brookes. It is known that at least four tutors are planning to leave the faculty this year sparking fears some of Oxford’s finest academics may be poached by other universities. Professor Niall Ferguson, who presented the television series Empire, is cutting down on his time at Oxford this year and told Cherwell, “The Oxford system of tutorial teaching is indeed quite laborious in comparison with nearly all other universities.” His main employment is now at New York University, though he retains his post at Jesus. Seven of the fourteen cuts in tutorials have already been made, most significantly as the result of the introduction of a compulsory thesis. However, it appears that further changes, which will reduce the total number of tutorials from 81 to 67, have been put into effect without liaison with the current or previous UJCC. Linsey Cole, a UJCC member said, “The whole point of a UJCC is to ensure students are consulted and adequately represented when such fundamental changes to teaching are being proposed and in this situation, this clearly did not occur.” The History faculty claims that its proposals have been underway for some time and are in no way expected to jeopardise students’ degrees. One Professor of history told Cherwell that it was time for change. “Undergraduate tutorial teaching at Oxford is a pedagogical fetish which should be rethought and cut back. What the Faculty doing is right and long overdue.” However, students have raised concern that no details of replacement teaching have been given. Sian Grieve, Wadham’s history representative said, “A change to classes rather than tutorials would not be acceptable if Oxford is to maintain its status as a leading university.” The History Faculty denies that the move is ‘resource-driven’.ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2003last_img read more

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