Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

As if we didn’t already know

Research by shows that British students spend their book money on beer and kebabs. 43% of the money set aside for buying textbooks is used “to fund drinking sessions and other extra curricular activities”, according to the article.
Of course, at least I can take some glee in the knowledge that London students come bottom, but then with a night out costing so much down there it’s less surprising.
I can’t remember hiw much money I set aside for books this year but today I spent £65.98 on three books. I may need to get more if need be but I’ll stick to these three unless I absolutely have to.
Probably the most interesting bit of the article is this:

Of those who took part in the poll, just 9% disagreed with the suggestion that the cost of textbooks should be subsidised by the government.

When you consider how big the latest Harry Potter is and how cheap it is, you wonder why you have pay £40 for a 400-page textbook on TCP/IP. Either the government needs to get arsy at publishers over their ridiculously high charges, or offer students complementary book tokens, or something. Oh yeah, and they can ditch their ideas about top-up fees while they’re at it…


  1. I thought half the reason Uni’s allowed P2P and charged for printing was because ebooks were taking over. 😀

  2. A lot of campuses in the US are doing away with making students buy most of their books. They just buy them in bulk and check them out to students for the semester. Usually works out pretty well. I think I only had to buy one small book this semester.

  3. Ours doesn’t allow P2P and also charges for printing 🙁 .
    Ryan – we often did that at college, but not at university, sadly.

  4. Most publishers rely on textbooks to make a profit as they have a reliable and in some respects captive market. They are expensive because the price is not contained in the paper and ink but the years of research time and effort that went into preparing the text. Mind you if you learn how to use the Uni library properly and don’t try and buy all your books new you can save a lot of money.
    Harry Potter was heavily discounted to the point that the bookshops themselves were not making much of a profit but using it as a PR tool. As for tuition fees try this try this

  5. Firstly, not all the books were new – one is second-hand. I would have bought others second-hand if I had the opportunity but getting hold of them has been impossible.
    Secondly, these are the ‘absolute-must-have’ books that are necessary for reading after every lecture in that module. In short, I’d have to have them on almost permanent loan from the library, or spend all my time down there. I’d much rather study in my nice, warm room in comfort with my music than in a silent library.
    Thirdly, in their current state, I would not vote Conservative in a million years. The Liberal Democrats have a similar policy but unlike the Tories they don’t want to completely abolish the targets of getting more people into university. It’s only when you get the bright kids from poor backgrounds into university that they can acheive their full potential and break the vicious circle whereby families cannot break out of poverty because they cannot afford the education.
    But thank you for making a positive contribution to the discussion.

  6. The Lib Dems would still make you pay the tuition fee only retrospectively. You would still have to pay the debt. The prospect of that debt will be a significant deterrent to poorer people to apply to University.
    Raising University numbers yet further is pointless as it already extends to more than 25 percent of 18-30 year olds and some courses will already accept two E’s for admission. If they get anywhere near the 50% target there is no prospect of most of those extra people getting a graduate income of the amount you would need to justify wracking up that kind of debt for.
    Thousands of people are being conned into doing degrees that will be virtually worthless (because they will be so commmon)in the job market but very real in their overdraft.
    This has already happened to many people i went to university with and it seems perverse that the governemnt want to extend this to an even greater proportion of the population.
    (think your blog s very cool in general, particularly like the design)

  7. Points taken. I appreciate there is a problem with so-called ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees (Media Studies and Journalism seem to be two common ones) but perhaps the onus is on the universities to make them relevant to the workplace. For example, Bradford does not offer straight Media Studies, but a slightly varied course which employers seem to prefer, judging by its graduate employment rate. It’s not spectacular but the majority of students won’t leave with a certificate that means nothing.
    I agree that the 50% level is perhaps too high, but a few more will not come amiss.