UK’s
Cambridge University physical sciences professor came under fire this
week from mental health campaigners and students after he suggested
undergraduates will have to work hard and abstain from drinking to pass
the course.

Eugene Terentjev draw the fury of
students and mental health activists after sending out an email last
week to first-year natural sciences undergraduates at Cambridge, telling
them the course will be difficult and thus they should refrain from
drinking and other social activities if they wish to succeed, according
to an email leaked to student-run publication Varsity.

“Physical
sciences is a VERY hard subject, which will require ALL of your
attention and your FULL brain capacity (and for a large fraction of you,
even that will not be quite enough),” Terentjev wrote to the students.

“You
can ONLY do well (ie achieve your potential, which rightly or wrongly
several people here assumed you have) if you are completely focused, and
learn to enjoy the course. People who just TAKE the course, but enjoy
their social life, can easily survive in many subjects — but not in this
one.”


“Remember that you are NOT at any other uni, where students do drink a lot and do have what they regard as a ‘good time’".



- Professor Eugene Terentjev

He added: “Remember that you are NOT at any
other uni, where students do drink a lot and do have what they regard as
a ‘good time’ — and you are NOT on a course, as some Cambridge courses
sadly are, where such a behaviour pattern is possible or acceptable.”

The
professor’s comments caused an uproar among activists and students, who
called his email “extremely damaging” and neither “appropriate nor
acceptable”, with one other university vice-chancellor accusing
Terentjev of “frightening impressionable undergraduates”, the London Times reported.

A
mental health campaign at the university, Student Minds Cambridge, said
the message sent by the professor “could be extremely damaging to the
mental well-being of the students concerned, and potentially others as
well,” the Times reported.

Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of
Buckingham University, said the professor message scaremongers the
students rather than helping them to learn to live a balanced lifestyle.
“Frightening impressionable undergraduates into believing that work
alone is all-important is irresponsible, unkind and wrong-headed,” he
told the newspaper.

The university’s student union welfare
officer, Micha Frazer-Carroll, also criticized the content of the email,
claiming it criticized “the very premise of having a social life, or
any sort of life, outside of study.”

“The university believes that
all first-year students in all disciplines, having undergone the
thorough admissions process that Cambridge requires, have the capacity
to succeed academically,” a spokesperson for the University told the
Times.