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Oh, I’m so with this story… one of the greatest gifts we can give students – a responsibility for their own learning… be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage!

On his finding that one in three first-year undergraduates struggle to learn independently, he said: “They are not taking control of their learning in the way we would want them to because they still want to be trained like they were at school.”

Dr Ovens added that the current generation of students had been assessed “more than any other”, and that the problem of dealing with students unused to independent learning was not unique to the UK: “When we talk to colleagues worldwide, they have very similar problems, and they agree that the problems are getting progressively worse year on year.”

Current UK reforms focusing on the student experience carried the risk of a “knee-jerk” response that would lead to even greater spoon-feeding of students, Dr Ovens said.

He argued that academics had to respond to these issues by treating students as independent scholars: “Their autonomy is the single biggest value that can be developed; academics should not view students as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge.”

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