Following the success of a survey about pre-arrival readings we did this time last year, we decided to alter it slightly and use it to enquire about second year students’ book purchasing and reading habits over the summer. The number of participants almost doubled to 192 thanks to better publicity and the added incentive of having a chance to win one of two book vouchers.
It transpired that 25% of participants didn’t look for a reading list. Of the 75% who did, half of them found that there was a reading list available for them and half of them didn’t. This is slightly different in comparison to last year, when 60% of the first year students received a reading list. In both surveys 80% of students who received a reading list also used it.
We found that most students took the decision to buy a book depending on whether it was most relevant to the course, and if it was an acceptable price. There was a huge decline in the amount of people who bought all the books in comparison to those who had bothered to in first year. We also added a new option, whether students had bought second-hand books and over 10% of second year students stated that they had bought second-hand books. Some students added that they had reused books from first-year that remained relevant, and others said that they had simply borrowed books instead. Students said that they hadn’t bought the books mainly because they were too expensive, others said they hadn’t because they didn’t want to buy books before the year started and a few said that they thought they’d be able to access them online.
Students who hadn’t received their reading list were asked whether or not they tried to get their books anyway. Of the 33 who had looked for books despite not having received a reading list, 14 said that they had found the books by using the library, 11 had bought second hand books and just 7 people bought new books. The 37 who hadn’t looked for books having not received a reading list said that they hadn’t because they were too expensive to buy without knowing for certain which were appropriate, and other respondents said that they thought they’d be able to find books online. A couple of people thought that it would be the same books as the year before and one student said that it would have been too heavy to carry books as well as all their luggage on the train from home, so wanted to wait until they were back in Brighton anyway. And a lot of students thought that they would be able to find them in the library once the year had started.
We also asked whether or not students wished that they had done more reading over the summer, and almost two thirds of respondents said ‘yes’.
It was interesting to follow a year group and we intend to carry out a similar survey next year for those starting third year.