Cambridge University students plead for a half-term break due to ‘intense’ workload.
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Cambridge University students plead for a half-term break due to ‘intense’ workload

A new university group is proposing that there be a break halfway between the Michaelmas and Lent terms.

Students are asking for the terms to be extended to nine weeks, including a reading week along with an official Freshers Week in October.

Students are advocating that the current week be changed to Monday – Friday instead of Thursday through Wednesday, this would “give students an actual weekend” and tackle a “work ‘til you drop’ culture”. 

Oxbridge are notorious for their eight-week terms which date back to its 800-year history and are centred around Christian festivals. 

Approximately 83% of students backed the proposal in a recent students’ union motion, as many claim they are “burnt out halfway through term time”. They believe a reading week would give them time to catch up on assignments.

Students say they are constantly fighting a “culture of relentless intensity”. 

The Cambridge undergraduate education doesn’t work for everyone. Students have long known this, and senior figures in the University have admitted this at various points over the last decade.

– Ben Margolis

A 2021 survey found that 75% of Cambridge students feel lonely on a daily or weekly basis, above average for the sector.

Another 62% argue that the academic burden prevents them from properly forming friendships and maintaining a healthy social life. 

Ben Margolis, the president of Cambridge students’ union, commented: “the Cambridge undergraduate education doesn’t work for everyone. Students have long known this, and senior figures in the University have admitted this at various points over the last decade.”

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, told The Telegraph: “It’s unhealthy, I think a full-time course should be like a full-time job – it’s reasonable to expect students should be working maybe 40 hours a week on academic work, but many students at Oxbridge are working significantly more than that.”

Mr Hillman argued that reading weeks “make a lot of sense”, but should be used to “further academic interests” rather than “just an excuse for a jolly”.  

Extending term time could potentially signify working-class students lose out on paid holiday work, he added. 

Cambridge students’ union said: “members of the working group will consult with different stakeholders in the university to understand the practical impacts of introducing a reading week and generate a proposed plan for implementation.” 

“This plan would then be brought to university committees for approval sometime in the next academic year.”

 

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