Does class size matter?

Tuesday 18 August 2020, UCAS advice


Does class size matter?

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What's the difference between class sizes at Uni? Simone, a student at The University of Buckingham, shares her experience. 

To be seen or not to be seen, that is the question when deciding between a university with small class sizes and a university with large class sizes 

Applying for university is an exciting time in any person’s life, however choosing the right university can be very daunting. There are so many factors to consider when choosing where to apply. Are you choosing for sports clubs, for social societies, or for small or large class sizes and being known by a name not a number?

I have had the opportunity to study at a big university with large class sizes (approximately 300 students per class) and I currently attend a smaller university with small classes (approximately 70 students per class). In all honesty, each of them has given me a different experience and should not be compared to each other on just class size alone. It is a personal preference and decision and you need to decide what would make you happy and what you will be comfortable with. Your happiness is the most important factor in choosing a university. 

My experience from my larger university and larger class sizes was not bad at all. The number of students provided anonymity - if I did badly on a test, no one would know (and the lecturers wouldn’t notice either!). It was rare that other students and lecturers would know your name, so it was easy to fly under the radar. If you wanted to be seen, you had to make sure the lecturers know who you are by speaking out. On one hand, it’s great for your self-confidence, on the other hand, students that really struggle go unnoticed unless they ask for help. I survived the larger classes but knowing what I know now about smaller classes, I would have chosen smaller from the beginning because, personally, it just works better for me.

Currently, I am at the University of Buckingham. It’s a smaller university with smaller class sizes and so far my experience has been fantastic! My grades are higher and I feel more comfortable and in control of my studies. By the end of the first week or two, the lecturers will know you by name, which might sound scary, but it’s a good thing. This helps form a bond between the lecturer and the student, which will make the lecturer more aware if you are struggling and they will know how best to help you. It also gives you confidence to answer questions in front of others, to ask for help, and give you more motivation to want to work harder. You get to know the other students and learn that you are all feeling the same way and can give each other support. The smaller class sizes create a community amongst the students and the staff. You are part of the teaching experience instead of sitting, listening to one person speak.

I am in my final year, and I prefer smaller class sizes. I am seen as a person and not just another number and that has given me the confidence and motivation to do the best I can.