Student council members from the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences are calling for a thorough investigation into study pressure and stress among students at University College. Dean Harm Hospers refers to the measures that the board has already taken.
Students of UCM are very satisfied with their studies but at the same time experience the greatest study pressure, Observant concluded a few weeks ago on the basis of a survey. This was confirmed by complaints made by first-year and second-year students, says Dope council member and UCM student Anne-Sophie van Sloet van Oldruitenborgh. “Study pressure is high. Each period has two blocks as well as one skill item. For some blocks you are expected to read about 150 pages in three days, which is quite a lot more than for the elective subject I did at Psychology. We want the faculty board to investigate this problem.”
Dean Hospers first wants to wait and see what effects the measures that have already been taken are having. “I will not do ten things all at once. In September, we have already shortened the block periods from eight to seven weeks; this makes a difference of four weeks each year. This also gives staff more time to grade exams, et cetera. In addition, we want to appoint a student adviser. The latter will be asked to monitor first-year students who are having a difficult time adjusting or who are facing practical problems. All in all, I have very few indications that a lot of the UCM students can’t keep their heads above water.”
Partly because of complaints about stress, student parties Dope and Novum have recently distributed a questionnaire among 165 UCM students concerning the desirability of a buddy system for first-year students and exchange students. This type of assistance by senior students appeared to be a good idea to 82 per cent of the respondents; 78 per cent of them would also have liked to have had a buddy.
“We also feel that it would be a good idea if first-year students were supervised by internal members of staff,” says Van Sloet van Oldruitenborgh. She is referring to the so-called academic advisers who give recommendations to UCM students on their study choices. “The advisers who work at other faculties do not always understand how the education system works at UCM. For example, you cannot always take any subject at any given moment. This leads to students getting advice that they cannot implement.”