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Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country - UniLang

Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

This forum is to learn about foreign cultures and habits, because language skills are not everything you need as a world citizen...

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meidei
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Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby meidei » 2014-09-24, 17:35

So, I don't remember if I ever asked that before on UL, because I know I always wanted to.

This is pretty much the norm for Greek and Cypriot public universities. I've always heard from my older cousins who studied in Greek that when they had free time they'd attend completely unrelated classes, or that non-students would come to their classes and attend the lectures.

Last week I was also talking with a friend who graduated for University of Cyprus and she told me that not only it would take a very snobbish professor to not allow a non-student to attend, but that the University also offers certifications of attendance to non-students. They are not a legal university degree, to get that you need to sign up as a student, do homework and sit at exams, but it's a certificate saying that you have attended a certain lecture, or a series of lectures in a certain module.

Well, I find this wonderful, and I hope it's the norm all over the world. For various reasons you do not want to hand out degrees to everyone who showed up in a lecture, but you shouldn't stop anyone from walking in and listening. I think some universities are more high-tech about this, they actually put recordings of the lectures online.
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linguoboy
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby linguoboy » 2014-09-24, 17:50

Absolutely not. The policy may be different at some public institutions, but the elite private universities which the USA is known worldwide for would never allow that. You don't give away for free what the person in the next seat is paying $50,000 a year for. You might be able to sneak into a large lecture hall without being noticed, but in a smaller class you'd be challenged by the professor and--if necessary--removed by campus security. (The university I attended had one of the largest private security forces of any institution in the state.)
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby meidei » 2014-09-24, 18:26

I'd think what you are paying 50k a year is access to university services like scientific journals, a professor to grade your work and interact with you, people to write and grade your exams, and finally, a official legal degree. Certainly just someone listening to a lecture doesn't take anything away from the value of the degree.

In any case, when I was visiting my friend who studies at UoManchester, I certainly didn't fill like a non-student was welcome there. We had to go through rotating doors both using his RFID pass.
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Ludwig Whitby
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby Ludwig Whitby » 2014-09-24, 18:37

You can in Belgrade. I did that a few times. Teachers don't really know all the students who attend their classes so you could just pretend you're taking that course. When the professor actually does know all of their students, then you simply ask them if it's okay for you to attend the class. Most of them are happy to see such occurances.

I don't know what's it like on private universities, though.

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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby Saim » 2014-09-24, 19:22

 (en) At my university it's very common. I remember in one Polish class there were more people who were just coming to listen than to those who were signed up and would do the exam. Personally I'm going to Introduction to Basque and Russian IV this semester without actually being signed up.

 (ca) Això és molt comú a la meva universitat. Recordo que hi havia una classe de polonès on hi havia més gent que venia d'oient que matriculats. Personalment jo faré introducció al basc i rus IV aquest quadrimestre sense estar matriculat.

 (oc) Aquò's fòrça comun dins ma universitat. Remembri que i aviá una classe de polonés ont i aviá mei de gent que vendiá d'auditor que matriculats. Personalament ieu farái introduccion al basc e rus IV aqueste semestre sens èstre matriculat.
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby Varislintu » 2014-09-24, 19:24

In Finland you can, yes. :yep:
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-09-24, 19:24

linguoboy wrote:Absolutely not. The policy may be different at some public institutions, but the elite private universities which the USA is known worldwide for would never allow that. You don't give away for free what the person in the next seat is paying $50,000 a year for. You might be able to sneak into a large lecture hall without being noticed, but in a smaller class you'd be challenged by the professor and--if necessary--removed by campus security. (The university I attended had one of the largest private security forces of any institution in the state.)

You can get permission from the prof to sit in on a class, though.

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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby linguoboy » 2014-09-24, 19:43

meidei wrote:I'd think what you are paying 50k a year is access to university services like scientific journals, a professor to grade your work and interact with you, people to write and grade your exams, and finally, a official legal degree. Certainly just someone listening to a lecture doesn't take anything away from the value of the degree.

1. Students are paying for the whole package. Lectures are part of that package.
2. Perception is as important as reality. It doesn't matter that allowing public access to lectures doesn't devalue degrees if the perception among your consumer base is that it does. (And when you're selling them a $200,000 product, that is a risk you can't afford.)
3. Running a university is expensive and the managers are looking for ways to monetise anything and everything they can. Everyone's trying to figure out distance learning right now; one thing they have figured out is that it involves streaming lectures to customers. So, again, you'd be giving away a product that the institution believes (even wrongly) that it can sell for money.
4. Security is of utmost concern in the Land of the School Shooting. Again, it doesn't matter if you're more likely to be killed (or raped or attacked) by a fellow paying student than some guy off the street, that's not the perception consumers have and they are spoiled for choice.
5. Private universities trade on exclusiveness. A central part of their ranking, in fact, is how many people they turn away. Letting non-Tuition Paying Units (or TPUs) onto your campus dilutes your brand.
6. You missed a big element in your list of things people are willing to pay universities for: contacts. Again, a major reason for attending an elite university and not one of the many (substantially cheaper) alternatives is the people you meet there and their utility to you in later life. Letting in people off the street dilutes the pool.

I think the problem comes from viewing universities as a place where people go to learn things. Openness and inclusion are beneficial to expanding horizons and educating people about the world. But that's not what people in the USA go to top universities for. They go for (a) an enjoyable experience and (b) to increase their earning power. Opening lecture halls to the masses furthers neither of these goals.
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby Lauren » 2014-09-24, 19:50

Saim wrote: (en) At my university it's very common. I remember in one Polish class there were more people who were just coming to listen than to those who were signed up and would do the exam. Personally I'm going to Introduction to Basque

Oh. My. God. You are so lucky. I would love to take free language classes, especially Basque classes. :o

I think the problem comes from viewing universities as a place where people go to learn things. Openness and inclusion are beneficial to expanding horizons and educating people about the world. But that's not what people in the USA go to top universities for.

This. Also, a huge reason why our society is so fucked up.
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby linguoboy » 2014-09-24, 19:55

vijayjohn wrote:You can get permission from the prof to sit in on a class, though.

Can you? I just scoured our institution's website and couldn't find any information on the topic. All the information about visiting campus is directed at prospective students and even that states that there is a "pre-selected list of courses" that they may sit in on.

Remember, you're at a state-funded institution. The rules are different there. Because we receive Federal documents as part of the Federal Depository Library Program, we're required by law to allow public access to the library--but only for the purpose of viewing those documents. (In practice, we allow public access to all our resources--but we reserve the right to revoke it at any time. I've seen a steady roster of public patrons banned over the years, often on rather flimsy pretenses.)
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-09-24, 20:11

linguoboy wrote:Can you?

Tbh, I didn't mean to speak for all American universities here, but in the linguistics department at the University of Texas, absolutely. I got permission from the department chairman to sit in on any graduate course I liked (before I started college, without asking for anything of the sort, and probably even before I actually visited the department, lol). In my last year, I finally took advantage of this when I signed up for "Honors Thesis" hours, sat in on a graduate class for an entire semester, and used the thesis I wrote to contribute to that class. An Irish lady I went to grad school with occasionally had people visiting and got permission to have them sit in for the day on classes we attended together or were both teaching assistants in.
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby Varislintu » 2014-09-24, 20:11

I checked, and the public nature of university lectures is laid down in the Finnish University Law. I freely translate: "The teaching in univerities is public. For a motivated reason, the public may be restricted from coming to view the teaching." (I know, horrible English.)
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby Патрислав Андреевич » 2014-09-24, 20:15

In Polish public universities it's possible to listen to lectures as long as you've got permission from the professor. Haven't done it myself yet though.
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby linguoboy » 2014-09-24, 20:20

Lowena wrote:This. Also, a huge reason why our society is so fucked up.

I'm not sure how much this is a reason why our society is fucked up and how much it is just another symptom of the overall fuckedupedness. Rich people are willing to pay a lot of money in order not to come into contact with poor people. For many of them, it's why they became rich.
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby Itikar » 2014-09-24, 20:25

In Italian public universities everyone is allowed to attend lectures and oral exams.
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby Lauren » 2014-09-24, 20:37

At my college you can audit classes, but you pay full price... Might as well join the class for real so it counts as a credit!

@linguoboy: I didn't intend to imply a cause and effect relationship, just that it's an example of the fuckedupness of our society.
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby dorenda » 2014-09-24, 20:52

In my university in the Netherlands, as far as I know outsiders were officially not allowed in the buildings, but nobody was checking that. So you could probably join a lecture with a big group of people without being noticed. In lectures with smaller groups, you would certainly be noticed, so it would be better to ask the professor for permission. I have no idea how easy it would be to get it. I guess few people would try it anyway.
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby meidei » 2014-09-24, 21:19

1. Students are paying for the whole package. Lectures are part of that package.
2. Perception is as important as reality. It doesn't matter that allowing public access to lectures doesn't devalue degrees if the perception among your consumer base is that it does. (And when you're selling them a $200,000 product, that is a risk you can't afford.)
3. Running a university is expensive and the managers are looking for ways to monetise anything and everything they can. Everyone's trying to figure out distance learning right now; one thing they have figured out is that it involves streaming lectures to customers. So, again, you'd be giving away a product that the institution believes (even wrongly) that it can sell for money.
5. Private universities trade on exclusiveness. A central part of their ranking, in fact, is how many people they turn away. Letting non-Tuition Paying Units (or TPUs) onto your campus dilutes your brand.


This is probably why things are so radically different.
Here in Cyprus, and it seems like the same in Europe in general, it's the public universities are the top institutions in their field(s). They are more elective in who they give a degree to (UCY and CUT are notoriously hard to graduate from) and they get a big part of their funding not from tuition but from research grants and international competitions (and UCY are very proud of their Physics and Biology Schools since they win one prize after another for their work), while Private Unis in Cyprus have been described as diploma mills.

So I can totally see that in a country where it's private universities that make most of the top universities, they behave like for-profits do.
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vijayjohn
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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-09-24, 21:26

linguoboy wrote:I think the problem comes from viewing universities as a place where people go to learn things. Openness and inclusion are beneficial to expanding horizons and educating people about the world. But that's not what people in the USA go to top universities for. They go for (a) an enjoyable experience and (b) to increase their earning power.

Does that depend on which ethnic group you belong to, though? To me, those sound like the reasons why white people go to top universities. I mean, I guess increasing earning power is part of the motivation for Asians to go there, but we also just value education a lot.

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Re: Can you just walk in to a university lecture in your country

Postby linguoboy » 2014-09-24, 21:48

vijayjohn wrote:I mean, I guess increasing earning power is part of the motivation for Asians to go there

You guess? How many of the Asians you know are majoring in liberal arts or history rather than medicine or engineering?
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