Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Sector 'Stuck in the Middle Ages'

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Sector 'Stuck in the Middle Ages'

Article excerpt

NUS vice-president says exams and essays favour more advantaged students. Chris Havergal writes

A student leader has challenged universities to redraw "unrepresentative" curricula and assessment methods, blaming them for the underperformance of students from less privileged backgrounds.

Sorana Vieru, the National Union of Students' new vice-president (higher education), said there was a clear "structural problem" behind the underperformance of students who are from disadvantaged families or ethnic minorities, or who have disabilities.

In an interview with Times Higher Education, Ms Vieru said that urging institutions to take decisive action to reflect changing student bodies in their teaching and assessment methods would be her top priority. "Higher education provision is moving so quickly, but when it comes to what education looks like and how we assess things, it hasn't changed for centuries," she said. "We still do the same things that universities did in the Middle Ages."

Last month a study conducted for the Higher Education Funding Council for England found that students from disadvantaged socio-economic groups were less likely to complete their course, to get a good degree or to be satisfied with their university experience. Results for ethnic minority and disabled students were similar.

Ms Vieru, who came to the UK from Romania to study as a teenager, argued that curricula are "unrepresentative" of the experiences of students from non-traditional backgrounds. …

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