I study a university course where attendance is compulsory. Every single lecture, seminar and tutorial on my timetable is not a feeble invitation, as is the case at many British universities, but more of threatening instruction. If I don't drag my sorry, sleep-deprived and hungover self to lectures, I will get called up for it.  

Of course this doesn't mean that every student on my course has the attendance record of a saint, especially after a particularly heavy night of one pound shots at Tap n Tin, but it does mean there are consequences.

Attendance at university lectures is of growing concern across the country, with Joshua Feldman writing on the Guardian yesterday of Sussex University's decision to make it mandatory for English undergraduates to attend at least 80% of their lectures. But to me it seems bizarre that this is not already the case.

At a debate on the topic many students argued that making classes mandatory defeats the whole ethos of higher education. University learning places a much greater emphasis on self study and independent learning and by extension students should be able to manage their time as they see fit - even if this means shunning lectures.

A study by the British Medical Association last year echoed similar themes. Only 43 percent of respondents said their course made attendance obligatory and a mere 41 percent thought it was a good idea.

One student from Leeds commented: "University should prepare you by giving you the skills for lifelong learning. If this means medical students need to be thrown in at the deep end and made to take responsibility for their learning, so be it.

"In the working world, no one is going to mollycoddle you to learn material or to make the right choices in terms of your professional development."

However in the working world, if you go absent without leave for days on end, it's also highly unlikely that you're going to stay employed for long. Allowing students to skip classes without any sort of consequence, may give them more freedom with their learning, but this really doesn't reflect the practicalities of real life. Real people in real jobs have to make the trek to the office every day and if university is about preparing yourself for employment then it should reflect that.

Even in the world of academia it feels traitorous to shirk seminars. Universities are academic communities and students should embrace the opportunity to engage with others of similar interests and share and explore ideas.

Other students argue that if they're passing their exams without going to lectures, then surely the issue becomes null and void. They say they have a different learning style and would prefer to while away the hours alone with textbooks.

But surely university is worth more than the piece of paper you receive at the end? It's about engaging with an academic community, taking an active role in all areas and furthering the way you think - not just passing exams.

Allowing students to skip lessons also allows them to shirk responsibility. Haven't done the work for today? Just give it a miss. Feeling like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards after last night? Just give it a miss. That's not to say that making them compulsory means that people won't skip lectures, but that niggly voice in the back of your head will certainly have more to say about it.

Besides, if you're not going to lectures, remind me exactly what you're paying £27,000 for again?

Related Stories:

Guardian - Should Lectures be Complusory? 

Medical Student - Should academic attendance be complusory?




This is so true, why pay that much money if you're not going to make the effort?

If you're not going to classes, then what's the point?