The survey consisted of some general questions and 9 statements with comments. General questions asked about university degree, gender and travel time. Their main goal was to observe if there is a large difference in study pressure between different academic degrees and if gender and distance to the university also have anything to do with it. The statements opted different reasons why students may experience study pressure, such as not managing work load very well or a lack of clarity as to what exactly is expected of them. Respondents were asked to grade the impact of each of those on the scale of 1 to 5 (where 1 was not feeling pressure at all and 5 being extremely stressed).
We have thoroughly studied the survey results. and unfortunately they paint quite a grim picture of our faculty and our students' well-being.
No difference in experiencing study pressure has been noticed between male and female students, however living further away from the university seems to have a big impact on it. Students living relatively close (less than 20 min away) graded study pressure on average at 4,27, while for students living over 40 and 60 minutes away it increased to 4,54 and 4,57.
Moreover, an average bachelor's student seems to feel more study pressure (4,38) than a master's student (4,17). What is interesting are large differences between different master tracks. Urbanism students placed as the ones feeling the most study pressure (4,45), while people studying Management in the Built Environment seem to be least stressed (3,89).
Bad work management
Many students think that bad work management during the course of semester is one of the reasons for feeling stressed. However, in most cases it was graded quite low, showing that the problem is small in comparison to other points.
TU Delft encourages students to do things outside of studying with extensive sport and cultural program provided by the X. Moreover, there are many student associations, which students can join. There are a lot of important skills that can be gained outside of the faculty, however at this point most students do not have time to explore those, spending all their time studying, working at the studio or on one of many other assignments.
Architecture and Urbanism master tracks seem to be the most competitive ones. Competitiveness has a lot of positive and negative aspects – students can learn a lot from each other, however a lot of people end up working 60-80 hours a week, simply because they want to (and do not have other commitments).
This high competitiveness unfortunately results in a new standard and quality, which is expected by teachers and which students who work just 40 hours per week simply cannot deliver. For many students the only way to manage to deliver everything is pulling all-nighters, which some of the teachers even seem to encourage. How did it become a norm and, in some cases, expectation that students spend all night working before a big deadline? Considering that it has been proven to be extremely unhealthy and dangerous it should be discouraged at all times!
The single most commonly stated reason for feeling study pressure among all years, degrees and tracks are coinciding deadlines. Quite often, there are several important deadlines in the same week or even day. With a combination of short and long term deadlines it is quite often hard to manage to keep a clear overview and deliver quality products with every assignment. Sometimes two courses are too much to handle at the same time and students end up postponing them to next semester.
Inefficiently divided workload
Quite often in studios critical decisions are made last minute (just before the deadline), which means there is no time to implement them because students still need to work on their presentations and visualisation of the project. Often students are forced to make a choice between implementing those last-minute changes and spending time on renders etc.
Unclear grading criteria
Many students stated in the survey is that quite often it is unclear what exactly is asked and expected of them in different courses. Most of the assignments seem to lack objective and transparent grading criteria, which lead to surprised response among students in regard to their grades. While teachers might have seemed content with their students’ work throughout the semester, they can then, unexpectedly, become extremely critical during final presentations, pointing out negatives they had previously never mentioned during class. Moreover, due to lack of those criteria, it can be often observed that teachers grade very differently, even in the same studio.
A common problem is that some of the courses take much more time than what was scheduled for them. Some 3 ECTS courses take as much (if not more) time than some 6 ECTS ones. Furthermore, within courses, students state that teachers often race through knowledge material. Thus, students do not have time to digest the information given, before moving on to the next subject.
Pressure to graduate
Moreover, many students need to work to sustain themselves while studying, because, as we all know, architecture is not the cheapest subject to study with books, expensive modelling materials and a lot of printing. However, it can be tough to balance work and study life.
Many students state that they would like to expand their architectural knowledge and skills besides learning for the courses during the semester, however, in many cases there is not enough time for that.