University of Lancaster takes on too many students to fit in its lecture halls – and tells those paying £9k-a-year they must watch lectures from their laptops
- Pupils who are allowed to attend lectures in person are being selected at random
- Freshers this year were unable to find accommodation at number of institutions
- Critics last night said that students in England were being exploited
Students at one of Britain’s top universities are being forced to watch lessons on laptops because there are too many of them to fit into lecture theatres.
Lancaster University has allowed so many first years on to its psychology course that some are being told to stay away from lectures because there is no space for them.
Instead, the undergraduates – each paying £9,250 a year in tuition fees – have to watch the lecture streamed on to a screen elsewhere on campus. Those allowed to attend are being selected at random.
Students at Lancaster University (pictured) are being forced to watch lessons on laptops because there are too many of them to fit into lecture theatres
‘They have let too many people on the course,’ said one disgruntled student at the university, which is ranked ninth in the UK in the latest Complete University Guide.
‘It is a very popular subject, but they know how many people they can take and they went over that.’
Institutions often make more offers than they have places on the basis that some candidates will fail to make the required A-level grades, but Lancaster said the excellent results achieved by this year’s applicants meant higher levels of recruitment.
On average, students require A, A, B at A-level to be accepted on the psychology course.
Campus overcrowding is a growing issue due to record numbers of undergraduates enrolling on courses. Freshers starting last month at a number of institutions have been unable to find accommodation or are being housed in cramped rooms.
Larger intakes have sparked complaints of overflowing lectures at a number of colleges, with economics students at Surrey University forced to relocate to an Odeon cinema in 2017 to provide more seats.
The teaching facility has allowed so many first years on to its psychology course that some are being told to stay away from lectures because there is no space for them (stock image)
Ministers have also warned of students being forced to stand at the back of overcrowded lecture halls taking notes on their knees.
Critics last night said that students in England, who pay some of the highest tuition fees in the world, were being exploited and should question what they were getting for their money.
It comes as lecturers at more than 60 universities, including Lancaster, announced plans to strike because of a row over pay and pensions, potentially disrupting the learning of thousands of students.
Universities could face compensation claims from undergraduates who could be robbed of teaching time by the walkouts.
Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign For Real Education, said: ‘Too many universities are acting more like educational battery farms than places of learning.
‘The admissions policy seems to be, “Pack students in and pile ’em high, because there’s money to be made”. Fat-cat university bosses have their snouts in the trough and it’s to hell with the students they are exploiting.’
A spokesman for Lancaster said a new 400-seat lecture theatre is due to open in the next academic year, adding: ‘It is true that an increase in numbers does not come without challenges.
‘To address these, we put extra resource into our psychology labs at the start of the year, including more PCs and workspaces to increase capacity and safeguard the student experience. We are also streaming our most popular first-year lectures.’