Excuse Me

Posted: 26.08.07 in Blogging

This post may end in a tirade. If that happens, I apologise.

If you are a Mathematician – looking for a University to study at – do not come to Newcastle University. That’s right, I am persuading you not to come to my uni. Why?

  1. The teaching is great, the support I cannot fault. But it’s not the members of staff at the School of Mathematics and Statistics that pull the strings. You will learn pretty quickly that the Maths and Stats staff and students are the long suffering members of the joint. You will be sent to all areas of the Uni for lectures, often being expected to traverse the length of the campus inside ten minutes between lectures. And don’t expect your lecture theatres to be plush and comfortable: while renovation work is taking place, I expect that this year you will find yourselves having lectures in rooms not fully suited to the task.
  2. Once the exam periods come round, you are on your own. You will take twelve exams in the first year; twelve exams in the second year; and six at the very least in the third year. When you take six exams in an exam period lasting two weeks, you can expect that the timetable is so designed to cause you maximum discomfort; with the least amount of time to prepare between exams; and you could find yourself doing them on a Saturday morning, perhaps in a biology lab.
  3. If you find yourself doing a degree in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at Newcastle, don’t make plans for subsequent years. The goalposts are moved so often that there is a trench all round the football pitch. If you choose to do something now in expectation of it leading to a module in the future, you will be disappointed. The future module is likely to change or disappear to the extent that in any case you will not be able to do it. Similarly, don’t choose what you want to do: just do the modules that everyone else is doing. You might think that choosing the modules you are interested is a good thing. No. You will find that you have far more options later on in the course if you stick to "the norm". Indeed, you are far less likely to have timetable clashes.

I almost made comparisons between those at central admin with monkeys, but should members of either central admin or the monkeys have read my analysis of the similarities, both groups may well be offended.

So yes, if you wish to come to Newcastle to study in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, I can’t recommend it. It’s a wonderful city and the teaching is excellent. The people are friendly and you will have a good time here. But if you want the best chance of getting a top class degree, I can’t say this is the best place to get it.


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