Lecture attendance is not something to worry about

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Last week The Saint published a list of lecture attendance. A furore erupted amongst students while lecturers stared out bleakly at the twelve people in their ‘oversubscribed’ module lecture and sobbed into their tweed. Carrying themselves off in their sensible footwear, they pulled off their ties like high rollers at the end of a bad night in Vegas, sat down with their books and reflected on the futility of academia.

The shame of the statistics is that they coincided directly with a week of the most startlingly wonderful sunshine and upon reading them, most people laughed gaily at the frivolousness of study and returned to their beach cricket/coffee in the sun/heroin in St Mary’s quad. While a slight shudder of guilt passed through me, I can’t help but admit that I am somewhat surprised at how high some of the numbers actually were.[pullquote]It does not account for either the hedonism of this year’s freshers, or the mental breakdowns of this year’s honours students[/pullquote]

Take, for example, mediaeval history, which I myself study due to a moment of high spirits and optimism during matriculation week, which holds a lecture attendance rate of 92.8 per cent across sub-honours and honours. Naturally, the fact that this is across the board fudges the numbers around a bit. However, the point remains that mediaeval history is an astonishingly well attended module across the board. Personally I am amazed though I am probably not the one to ask. The last time I went to a mediaeval history lecture I’m fairly sure James III was still king. Nevertheless I refastened the belt on my arm and returned to my vice with as much jolly impulsiveness as I’d felt that day in matriculation week when I had first signed up.

Of course all this data is also affected somewhat by the fact that it was taken in week three of semester two last year. So, it does not account for either the hedonism of this year’s freshers, or the mental breakdowns of this year’s honours students, so for myself the next set of statistics will be more informative of my own shortcomings as a human being. However one would assume it is unlikely to change all too much.

From a personal perspective, I had a great laugh at the fact that attendance figures stand 79.9 per cent to 74.7 per cent between the arts and science faculties in favour of the former. All those stereotypes of us arts students sashaying around town with scarves flung over our shoulders to protect our bespectacled faces from the wind as we stride through the graveyard at the cathedral in pairs like modern Byrons and Shelleys melted away instantly as you realised that truly it is us, the beleaguered arts students who put in the hard shifts in the library, ploughing through books and essays at a rate you could only dream of…

In fact, I was slightly surprised myself. A couple of my friends take modules in the science faculty (they slipped through the vetting process) and they are never about. Instead they spend their days in labs, or doing their twelfth class tests since the start of the week whilst the rest of us stumble around trying desperately to remember which day it is.

Be that as it may though, apparently we are the grafters in this town and nobody is more surprised than us. Meanwhile, the medicine lecture statistics caused a veritable sh**storm as the people entrusted with caring for our children and ourselves in our old age, attend 68.4 per cent of their lectures, conjuring images of carrying out vaccinations in twenty years time with blind lunges with a needle towards your arm and surgery being performed by a person so unaccustomed to the human body that there is a likelihood they will crack, grasp your lungs in one hand, blow down your throat and play you like the bagpipes.

The headlines of tomorrow’s doomsday for medicine are averted when we consider that medicine students can catch up on lectures by watching recordings of them online. Reports suggest that aromatherapists, homeopathists and other bullsh** pedlars around the country were distraught at this flip-flop, however the rest of us breathed a sigh of relief.

Truth be told though is that, as my mother would say in the quaint German vernacular: ‘es wird nicht so heiß gegessen wie gekocht’, which roughly translates as ‘things are never as bad as they seem’. Our lecture attendances on the whole do not appear too bad at all when considered closely, and frankly if you’re willing to just chuck away the tuition you are paying then that’s your deal.

Some lecture attendances may be low, but there is a mountain of reasons as to why, and frankly we cannot know these reasons unless the University brings in registration for lectures, which would be infinitely depressing. In the meantime then, enjoy the fact that lectures are so very nearly over, leaving two weeks for sunbathing (read: revision). Won’t that be just lovely.

Disclaimer: If you have any issues with my use of statistics, please feel free to keep them to yourselves. I am an arts student and therefore wouldn’t normally touch numbers with a bargepole. Now excuse me, I have poetry to compose.

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