======= Date Modified 02 Dec 2011 12:27:01 =======
============= Edited by a Moderator =============
Can anyone advise me?
My partner failed his MSc in Statistics & Stochastic Modelling this year. It seems to have been the most horrendous journey for him. At first, I thought it was
2 out of 4 lecturers have been fine. Clear concise lectures and prompt replies. My partner passed the assignments with good marks. Exams also went ok.
The other 2 lecturers have given handouts at lectures, brought in other un-experienced lecturers who also gave out handouts from the same lecturers which contained typo's. My Partner spent many hours trying to figure out formula's and calculations and thinking this was his error, only to find out that the error was in the actual handout from the lecturer!
He would email these lecturers who a) would never respond and b)one of these lecturers told him that he didnt give out solutions (after having emailed the group to say he would).
Some of the students worked together to do their assignments, which is not allowed as each students work has to be their own. My partner didnt do this but as a result of not doing so, he was not given any support by these lecturers and as a result, achieved low marks in the assignments and could not be prepared substantially for the relevant exams.
SO: 2 main issues:-
- Typo's in lecture handouts (which should have been thoroughly checked before handing them out) = Neglect
- Complete lack of communication back to the student when the student is emailing and asking for help = Neglect
He has other issues with his project supervisor and some more issues related to the manner of the 2 above lecturers.
Having been through hell to get to the exams and failing half of these and the project by just 2% and knowing he is completely and utterly capable of understanding all of the subject matter, he feels very resentful and completely disheartened.
We went to see the Course Director, sat down and waited to hear him talk about the Project.
He looked nervously at me and asked "Are you a Lawyer"? I responded "not".
Later when talking about the Statistics part, on seeing me scribbling his words, he asked me "Your not a Statistician are you?" I answered that I wasnt and continued scribbling. Again he was unsure and seemed nervous.
The Uni are very happy to take another years money for him to retake the other half of the exams and to re do the project but completely ignoring any emails he sends asking them for further comments on his work.
This is his second attempt at the exams. The first time (last year) he was not prepared enough and pulled out. This year he attended every lecture and completely went for it.
What stopped him from understanding was the fact that he kept getting stuck at home (most often over typos made by the lecturers themselves!) and also that he got no response from said Lecturers when he did ask fo
Isn't birkbeck mostly part time courses? as such the lecturers are probably used to students working highly independently. If you can prove that he emailed them repeatedly with no response, then you could appeal the fees and just ask to re-take exams/or appeal the final marks.
======= Date Modified 01 Dec 2011 11:03:13 =======
Hmm, well to some extent it sounds normal - on most taught courses you get a mix of good and bad lecturers, and the bad ones can be truly awful (incomprehensible lecturing, useless handouts or none at all, unhelpful and difficult to contact etc). I'd guess most of us have experienced this at some point. Sounds like he might have been particularly unlucky to get 2 out of 4 lecturers like that though...
What they might say though, is that if he was struggling and getting stuck and not getting the help he needed from the lecturers despite asking, he should have raised the issue with his personal tutor or someone else in the department. Which is a fair point, there's often more that can be done to help if you raise these things at the time, rather than after the fact.
When it comes to retaking the year, I guess the important thing is to know what (if anything) will be different this time around. If he's not confident it will be, it might be worth going elsewhere, I know there are other London universities offering a mathematical modelling MSc.
Also, and I truly don't mean any offence by this, perhaps he needs to examine very honestly whether the problems have been entirely down to the 'neglect' of the university, or whether partly it's him (you mention a lot of 'issues' with a lot of different people, and a previous year failed for different reasons). And it's surprising that less-than-perfect lecturing would lead to an actual fail, rather than, say, just missing out on a distinction, for an otherwise good student. A fail at Masters level is quite unusual, I think.
I would suggest making a formal complaint to the University and if no joy, complain about them to the University ombudsman.
I don't think we can really say who's "at fault" (or whatever you want to call it) here without the full picture from both sides but the ombudsman should be able to. Worth a try anyway?
Thank you all for these replies.....all have been helpful!!!
Keep 'em coming as it's good to see if others have encountered similar situations, done anything about it, done some self searching and for myself and my partner to get a bigger overall picture of the issues.
Thanks again Everyone so far!!
======= Date Modified 01 Dec 2011 15:01:55 =======
Liz - these are a few unconnected thoughts that may or may not be helpful:
1) I would suggest beginning with an informal letter of complaint to the Head of department - if there are embarassing issues for them, they might be able to offer the resits without fees and be pleased to find a way out without it going to the university administration. You need to read the examination regulations - there's probably a copy on the website to make sure that you aren't asking for something that they cannot actually do. If you can find a win-win compromise then you might avoid the awkwardness for your partner in resitting courses with the staff knowing he'd made an official complaint. If you go down the official complaint procedure then make sure you include as much evidence as you can and make your complaint as factual as possible. You need ideally to show that they haven't followed their own guarantees / policies / procedures to get anywhere. It takes time but unsubstantiated allegations against members of staff won't be taken seriously. If you want to go to the Ombudsman you have to have completed all stages of the university complaint procedure before they will look at it.
2) I would second Epiny in saying your partner needs to have an unemotional think about how much this is about his own ability in this particular subject as well. It's horrible to fail anything and when we're upset we tend to blame everyone but ourselves, but if it turns out that he's really picked the wrong Masters, it might be better to walk away rather than try to resit and turn his efforts to something where he can excel. If I understood your OP correctly I think if he's passed 1/3 of the course, he might be entitled to a PG Cert without resitting anything, which while not ideal is better than nothing.
3) You might want to edit your OP to make it less easy to identify your partner - it's a bit dangerous to be as open on the internet when you're still engaged in the complaint process.
"We went to see the Course Director, sat down and waited to hear him talk about the Project.
He looked nervously at me and asked "Are you a Lawyer"? I responded "not".
Later when talking about the Statistics part, on seeing me scribbling his words, he asked me "Your not a Statistician are you?" I answered that I wasnt and continued scribbling. Again he was unsure and seemed nervous."
Seems like a strange question for the Course Director to ask? Was the meeting originally booked with just your partner, in other words, was it anticipated that you would be partaking in the meeting [i would expect that a meeting between student and tutor would take place on a confidential basis - and so it seems like good due diligence on the part of the tutor to ascertain whether any third party had a bona fide reason to be in attendance]. Was he given any prior notice that note taking would be made by a third party? And was he afforded the opportunity to have a member of the admin. staff take notes also, for the sake of reciprocity. Even if he appeared nervous, what his response courteous, measured and proportionate, relative to the unknowns and queries which were being put before him?
How did it all work out in the end?
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