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Fancy a lecture at 8am?

Today I saw the headline:

“Durham University students angry at plans for 8am start.”1

The university is reportedly considering plans to start lectures early to support a growing cohort of students and that this would be a temporary measure while additional lecture theatre space is built.

I find this suggestion quite surprising.

There is plenty of research that suggests students perform better with a later morning start2, and indeed that grades can suffer with insufficient sleep when circadian rhythms are not taken into account.3,4

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As we know, university students tend to be socially active in the evening, making an earlier start for lectures impractical. (Not all students are ‘night owls’ but there tend to be more evening activities than breakfast ones!)

The university student union has accused the management team of being driven by student fees rather than students. If the new building works will only take a year, then why not delay expansion for a year so that the estimated 1,0005 students are not impacted?

I’d suggest that if grades are likely to be negatively impacted by bringing the start of the lecture day forward, then, given results/league tables, this seems like a bit of an own goal! [ARGH I made a football reference during the World Cup!]

Apparently, the student body has not been consulted on this6, and there must be other ways round this… surely universities are the places where problems get solved not created?!
student celebrating

Recommendations

  • How about trialling running lectures one hour later into the day if that supports increased lecture rotations?
  • What about running them over a lunch period, or streaming a lecture so that students with caring responsibilities can watch on demand, or that safety doesn’t become an issue by students walking to lectures in the dark during the winter?

Heck, I’ve only been thinking about this for about 5 minutes! (I’m sure I could be available for a consultancy fee! Haha!)

Part of student life involves making the most of the social aspect of university life, as well as the academic. This proposal seems to stifle the former and in turn could result in negative outcomes for Durham students which will impact the university’s reputation.

This can’t be what the bosses are looking for. Hopefully they will reconsider their idea.

Sleep on it Guys!

#KnowSleep

sleep

Related posts

Here’s a delightful selection of lifestyle and circadian rhythm posts from the Snorer.com blog.

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References about students, sleep and circadian rhythm

  1. BBC Durham University students angry at plans for 8am start https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-44617875 new window [accessed 28th June 2018]
  2. Google scholar link to multiple studies illustrating LATER start times for students make sense: https://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?q=university+students+sleep+patterns&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart new window [accessed 28th June 2018]
  3. Independent. ‘Night owl’ students perform worse academically due to ‘social jet lag’, study finds https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/students-night-owl-academic-results-worse-university-sleep-late-body-clock-study-a8286176.html new window [accessed 28th June 2018]
  4. 3.4 million real-world learning management system logins reveal the majority of students experience social jet lag correlated with decreased performance https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23044-8 new window [accessed 28th June 2018]
  5. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-44617875
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-44617875