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What to do when you don’t get along with your lecturer

Meld Magazine

Tue Jun 03 2014

WHAT can you do when you don’t get along with your lecturer? Is there any course of action? Giulia Poloni investigates.

We all have been there at some point. Sometimes, there is that one teacher who particularly dislikes us, right down to everything we do or say. It is part of a student’s life and we usually accept it as such. Sometimes though, students are unsure if their teacher has gone too far.

It happened to two university students who shared their stories with us.

The first student, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Meld that her teacher started picking on her since the course started.

“I have good marks in every course, hers is the only one where my results are below average”, she said.

Throughout the semester, she had trouble figuring out what her teacher wanted, as she was given conflicting feedback on the same piece of work one week from another.

“I feel like she has her favourites, but she has issues with me. At first I simply focused on my work but then other students noticed as well,” the student added.

She decided not to report the issue as she did not know who she could go to for help. The only person she felt comfortable talking to is her course leader, because “I feel like she’s very approachable”.

An international student studying journalism also shared her story with us.

A few weeks ago, she talked to her lecturer about a project she was working on based on the problems international students face in the job industry.

“He told me that if I wanted to do this story, I had to approach it from a perspective that people would care about,” she said.

What she found most offensive was his idea that “the general public wouldn’t care about issues involving international students because they were making money off them.”

Similarly, this student did not know who to bring up the issue with, apart from her course coordinator.

It was the first time she had experienced this and was “quite shocked”, especially considering that the course “focuses on a modern prospective of journalism – that news doesn’t necessarily have to be directed to the masses”.

What should a student do when they find themselves in a similar situation? Every university has an office that specifically deals with complaints, helping both students and staff members solve the problem.

The RMIT Student Complaint Team told Meld they receive approximately 200-300 complaints every year, in addition to other informal requests for general advice. There are currently about 82,000 students enrolled in RMIT.

“The most common types of complaints received by the Student Complaints Unit generally deals with disputes relating to University fees,” a RMIT spokesperson told Meld.

When approached with issues “related to personal matters”, the Student Complaints Team responds in a “professional and sympathetic way, in accordance with published RMIT policies, procedures and guidelines”.

A good tool RMIT uses to improve the relationship between staff and students is the University’s Student Feedback Policy, that helps improving communications and allows students to bring up issues anonymously.

Students who find themselves in a difficult situation can consult the Student Complaints Liaison Officer from their institution.

If you prefer, check your university’s web page concerning complaints and procedures, where you will find contact details of your institution’s complaints team. You can then contact the team by writing an email or dropping by their office for a chat and you might find out that your issues can be easily solved.