Are three day working weeks at university the future of education?

A number of universities are condensing their teaching to fit courses into a three-day week.

The academic institutions say it's a help to students, especially during a cost of living crisis.

But with students paying up to £9,250 a year for tuition (before accommodation and living costs) are they getting value for money?

The University of Coventry, University of Law and De Montfort University in Leicester are some of the institutions rolling out timetables condensed into three days.

They cite the rising cost of living students are facing, and the need many now have for a part-time job to subsidise their studies and living costs.

Though timetables have been compacted, they've not been cut.

The unis say the same number of hours are being taught, just in a more condensed format, to save students on the cost of travel and to offer more free time outside of lectures for personal study or even work.

For DeMontfort the three-day week meant a change to teaching practices.

Rather than four different modules taught concurrently over the academic year the university is now teaching one module at a time, in blocks, one after another.

The new approach for undergraduates "enables our students to focus on each topic in depth, receive faster feedback, and form a close sense of community by studying with the same group of students," the university says.

It adds: "The simpler timetable also allows our students a better work/life balance."

DeMontfort says from their own internal surveys "those on the block teaching timetable were about 10% happier than those not doing it, and 93% of students surveyed enjoyed studying one module at a time."

Speaking to those on campus in Leicester, some hailed it as "a really exciting change" and one that "focuses on the wellbeing of students".

The move was likened to the hybrid work environment some businesses have adopted post-Covid.

On the other hand, one student told us: "I think it's too much, the information is crammed in and it's not really enough time to process everything".

Part-time jobs remain banned at some universities, including Cambridge. Credit: PA

Think tank HEPI recently found a significant proportion of UK universities are open to the possibility of students working part-time - or even encouraging them to do so.

The research found 48% of unis audited (from a group of 140) either included information about part-time work on their own websites, or via their student unions.

The report authors said this marked a "liberalising of attitudes" towards work outside of studies.

Though the report acknowledged a small number of institutions - Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial among them - still ban their students from taking up part-time work.

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