Although I was a good student in school, university has been difficult for me from the start. I grew up poor, so I had the pressure to work regularly beside classes. I used to come home from nightshifts in a call centre, just to attend tutorial at 8.30am and fall asleep right after during my bachelor’s.
Now, as I started my master’s, I changed to a daytime job, but it’s even worse: when I want to attend class and prepare properly, I can barely work or go out. There are just too many readings and classes. I saw that coming a few weeks ago and tried to change my timetable, because my classes were scheduled both in the morning and afternoon. When should I work then? “That’s of course no problem”, my tutors said, “feel free to attend the other class.” They understood the pressure I am under.
But I have seriously underestimated the incredible level of bureaucracy! The FASoS front office first gave me high hopes by replying within a week (usually they take up to 3 weeks), just to say that I would need a ‘valid reason’ for planning to change my timetable. Why make it so hard for people? Of course, if everyone just changes their tutorial groups, it won’t work out anymore. I get the point. But when all of my tutors and the course coordinator agree that these circumstances are valid enough, why put up barriers then?
And beside usual courses, UM isn’t making it easier for us: a language course is 325 euros, a basic warm meal in SBE’s cafeteria rarely costs less than 5 euros, and I’m even charged extra to pay my tuition fees in instalments. We just need to look across the border to see how this can be done way more socially inclusive. ‘Studies are for studying’, one could say now, meaning that study and work don’t go together, but what kind of institution would UM then be? Do we desire to make the still widely elitist university bubble even more elitist?