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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 16. July 27, 1950

Part-Timing and Hair-Splitting

page 2

Part-Timing and Hair-Splitting

The Cause of the part-timer is ably defended in an article published in this issue (replying to one in our last issue). It is pleasant to hear that someone can rake up good arguments in favour of part-timing—and the arguments are good.

The statement which has real merit, so much so that it presents a genuine reply to an exponent of the need, for full time study, is that which argues that the part-time student, being part of the community outside as well as of the university community, is less likely to be an ivory towerist. This is a major virtue, and it is perhaps this more than anything else which gives Victoria its strong leaning towards interest in current affairs. Most students here are unable to get an exalted sense of their own position in society, since, while they may be very large fry in the university community, they form the lowliest cogs in the wheels of administration or industry outside. It is a healthy counteractive force.

But really, we must take the argument for what it is worth—about as much as the defence of poverty on the grounds that the poor are untempted by money. Most of the poor can see through that one; most part timers can see through the other. That there are incidental virtues to part-timing doesn't mean that we don't lose vital aspects of university life in achieving them. And we do. Unfortunately, it is the genuine student who loses most by part time study. He is the one most aware of the gain he would get from discussion and contact with other minds if he had time; he loses most of the spirit of a university. He would be the one who would—doing full time—not lose touch with the outside world. The student who comes here to get his ticket to a job (without decrying his attitude) doesn't lose much; nor would he gain much by full time study. The university for him is only a means to the end of a comfortable salary: most of his type are not vitally interested in the outside world anyway. We aren't decrying his attitude—maybe he is right, so far as he looks at life.

When all this is said for part-timing, though, the fact remains that the best students are unhappily aware that they are but skimming the surface of subjects they would like to tackle seriously, through lack of time. They can see that lecturers faced with classes who have little time for adequate personal research must have their material pre-digested—the evils of the present system may not all affect the ticket gainer, but they are none the less real.

The community loses most because those students who would have most to gain from genuine study find the present part timing system inadequate, insufficient, and positively frustrating.