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The decision to go to university is not taken lightly by many. The time, money and the debt racked up over one degree are discouraging a lot of young people.

However, those who choose to take up a course might be getting a little short-changed, according to research from Bristol University and the New College of the Humanities and published by journal Fiscal Studies.

The data, collated from 67 universities around the UK, showed that some students are receiving so little tuition that they are paying the equivalent of £1,000 an hour.

Economics students are worst hit – with an average of 26 hours of one-to-one teaching received over a three-year course.

While on the other end of the scale, Physics students receive almost three times the amount of teaching – for the same fees.

Speaking to the BBC, author Dr Mike Peacey, commented, “It’s a bit bizarre. It certainly seems like humanities students are subsidising Stem [science, technology, engineering and maths] students.

“Really, students are paying a kind of university tax rather than tuition fees.

Many English universities now charge UK and EU students the maximum, £9,250 per year for the vast majority of undergraduate courses.

The data was calculated by the total equivalent adjusted contact hours (Teach) to convert teaching time and class size into the equivalent number of hours of one-to-one contact.

The results saw that over three years on average:

  • Physics students received 74.6 hours
  • History students received 32.6 hours
  • Economics students received 26.1 hours

Times spent on teaching differed massively across the broad spectrum of universities in the UK. For example, students studying economics at the top ten per cent of universities received as much as five times more teaching than institutions ranked in the bottom ten per cent.

“How much students must pay in tuition fees makes no difference to how much teaching they receive,” the report says.

“Clearly, some students are receiving much better value for money than others.

“For a market to function properly, participants must be able to compare what is offered by different providers.”