Students have reacted angrily to news that they were charged differently, according to college, for a mandatory geography field trip.
As part of a course requirement, geography students are required to conduct a one week field trip in Crete.
But while wealthier colleges subsidise all or part of the cost of the trip, others have refused to put money towards it.
Tomo Sandeman, a second year Geographer, emphasised that attendance on the £295 trip was “absolutely compulsory”, even though he received no financial help from his college.
In contrast, one Christ Church student Dan Barnes, described the ease with which he obtained a travel grant for the trip.
He said it was “automatic after having a pre-printed form signed by his tutor.”
Furthermore, some students have also questioned the academic value of the trip. One student from St Catherine’s described it as “just a massive piss-up”.
Barnes admitted that “the academic value of the trip wasn’t that great.” He added that “you could do as much work as you wanted on the trip.”
His views were echoed by students throughout the University. One Geographer from St Anne’s, who wished to remain anonymous, described working hours as “flexible, particularly over the first three days.”
The student continued, “I was really annoyed that we had to pay for it, especially as we already pay top up fees.”
She described the Geography department’s situation in this regard as comparing poorly with that of Earth Sciences.
She spoke angrily of how she spent hours on the beach, “taking measurements of the sand height above and below sea level several hundred times, as well as cataloguing vegetation” while other participants “relaxed in cafes” and “took things slowly.”
Her observations were confirmed by Sandeman, who said: “Quite a few geographers made their results up.” He described one group who “hired pedal boats and went hiking in the mountains,” after having fabricated some data for their work-book.
They agreed with the St Anne’s student that, as it was “the only fieldwork [they] get to do in the entire course,” its academic value was far from negligible.
For those students from less well-endowed colleges, though, this merely exacerbated the unfairness of having to fund the trip from their own pockets.
As the St Anne’s geographer pointed out, “It’s an important week… we just shouldn’t have to pay.”