A Russell Group university doesn’t necessarily mean a quality one
Studying at Glasgow University is a blessing - I should be so happy to have reached such a fantastic leading UK University. If I study hard enough I’ll walk out of this University at the end of my fourth year and know that I have a brilliant, prestigious degree. At least that’s how the University presents itself.
In terms of actual experience, does Glasgow University really measure up to the standard it claims to have? I’m not just talking education; I mean the routine of let-down after let-down we experience while studying here. I know the little stamp of approval on my degree from Glasgow is all that matters at the end of it, but I wish the University didn’t also seem to feel that way and care more about the end product than the overall experience.
As students of this University, we’ve faced a series of problems within the first two months of the academic year alone, from the MyCampus crashes to union blunders. But even away from such specific events, as students, we are being let down overall. If you suffer from any mental health-related problems and thought the University might be willing to help you out, you may be more than aware of the disappointment I’m describing. Comparing this with other universities, such as Strathclyde, which many of our student body love to mock, our University’s ability to care for its students is lacklustre. I admit it’s anecdotal but whenever I speak to my Strathclyde friends, they always seem to be enjoying their University experience much more; facing better general mental care and far more focused attention from their tutors and lecturers.
For a high-rating university, you’d expect brilliant teaching... surely that’s the fundamental component to get such a rating? However, in many courses (not all, but many), I’ve found the teaching to be inconsistent. You can go from fascinating, engaging lectures from people who clearly love their course and love teaching it, to teaching staff who seem to be only one week ahead of you in actually learning the content. I know I’m not alone in this and I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds themselves frustrated when another lecturer begins to spend more time plugging their book rather than teaching us the course.
In terms of assessment, it doesn’t seem to get much better: whoever thinks that an open book, online, multiple-choice exam with no time limit is “university-level” testing, must really not care about their course. Also, have any of you actually read the feedback on an essay you’ve submitted? Not only did it take over a month to get your result, but you get a replica of the feedback the person sitting next to you has, yet you’ve got a C2 and they’ve got an A5, and when you dare ask for better feedback, you’re accused of questioning their ability.
I feel like the process of earning my degree is less about my ability to excel in my course and far more about my ability to withstand copious amounts of tedious shit. Just look at the enrolment process if you want a good example (I imagine that at least a third of our student population drops out on day one just trying to manoeuvre their way through countless ten-minute loading times with unclear instructions!)
This is made all the more difficult if you’re facing personal issues, such as mental health-related problems or, as The Glasgow Guardian recently covered, something like a breakup. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeking counselling at the University, or perhaps just a one-off session, then you’ve likely encountered the standard waiting times - it can be months before you get the help you need. I want to stress that my problem isn’t with the actual staff, rather the lack of them, which has lead to such a lack of support. The amount that could happen during your waiting time could make your eventual appointment either pointless or simply far too late. Exams, essays, friendships, basic wellbeing can all take quite a beating in just a month.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the recent QMU scandal, of which I’m sure you’re all aware. I know the QMU isn’t the University, but unions are a part of the uni experience and their lack of a clear sexual misconduct policy showed a clear disregard for the students of this University. For me, this is another part of the more general disappointment students face while at this University; issues not directly caused by the University but still function as part of the wider problem, or other examples such as the issues we face with crooked landlords.
The University of Glasgow may have a shining reputation to the outside world, but when you’re one of the students, it becomes all too clear how much of it was simply that: reputation. I know it’s worth sticking it out, powering through the degree (especially if, like me, you’re paying nine grand a year); but when I look back at my time here, I really hope I can do so through nostalgia goggles, and forget the day-to-day frustrations which made the overall experience less than bearable.