Student stereotypes | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Student stereotypes

Sitting in the Gisbert Kapp Building a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t help but overhear the stereotypical ramblings of one mature student

Sitting in the Gisbert Kapp Building a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't help but overhear the stereotypical ramblings of one mature student. The general gist of his remarks were that all British students care about is getting drunk and having a good time, rather than showing a dedicated work ethic. Unfortunately, this stereotype is echoed by many others in society and has been fuelled by the media.

It would be easy for me to digress onto the subject of oversubscribed university places and the fact that young people go to university in order to delay entering the professional world resulting higher tuition fees, but I fear I could write forever on this subject without reaching any conclusion. So, I shall leave that debate to another time. Instead, I wish to consider the impact of the stereotypes on students.

The most important issue when discussing stereotypes is whether or not people use them sarcastically or actually believe them to be truly representative. Do the public acknowledge the importance of higher education or just regard students as prolonging their entry into the workplace? If the latter is the case, it is easy to see where the stereotypes arise from.

As a conscientious and hardworking student, I take offence at the stereotype of being regarded by many as a 'typical student' because I am not the person that it represents. Like many students, I work extremely hard towards my degree and have loans and a part-time job to fund it. I have a strong work ethic, but often feel the need to justify my student status with the words: 'I have a job too'.

I am not denying the fact that sometimes I do like to go out and have a good time, which more often than not involves having a drink or two, but why should I be labelled as a 'typical student' for doing so? Of course there are students particularly in their first year who enjoy frequent nights out, but why should this element of their lives be used in the stereotype and not the hard-work that they put in to their degrees?

For some, the stereotype is seemingly of no concern. The Facebook group 'university... it's like being on the dole only your parents are proud of you' appears to advocate the 'typical student' lifestyle. However, one derogatory comment towards students which has subsequently been deleted, provoked outrage among many members, showing that although there is an attempt to 'laugh' the stereotype off, they actually take offence by it.

Ultimately, it appears that although as a collective student body we see no harm in mocking ourselves, as soon as the rest of society starts to criticise, we take offence.


12th February 2010 at 6:00 am