The senate approved the changes for the restructuring of the academic year last December. Towards the end of last term a questionnaire was created in order to consult students in relation to the changes being proposed.

The questionnaire was produced by Lita Wallis, the Students’ Union Education Officer, together with the university to ensure that students were consulted about the proposed changes to the academic year.

From a body of 12,000 students only 579 responded to the online questionnaire. According to the statistics, 70 percent of students who completed the survey said they were satisfied with the current structure or that the proposals needed further adjustment.
However, this is was not a significant sample to prevent the proposals from going forward. The proposals were voted in their entirety at a Senate meeting in December. For first and second year undergraduates there will be a change in the credit system. Term will be extended from 10 to 12 weeks.

Uninterrupted teaching and exams for autumn term courses will take place at the end of January. The Students’ Union’s representatives had informed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), Professor Claire Mackie that they would not be able to support the motions and so it was agreed that only some of the proposals would go to a vote and the rest would be open for student consultation.

These include “a five week teaching free period” over Christmas to incorporate a three week vacation and a two week mid-year “teaching free period” immediately prior the start of the second teaching block and an additional three week “teaching free period” in Spring, after the second teaching block.”

Mackie said: “I am pleased that, after due consideration, Senate was able to support this development. It will help us improve how we provide mid-year assessment (both coursework and examinations) for students, something asked for by many students and staff.”

One final year student said: “It saddens me to see that the university is making these changes to the academic year. “One of the things that I love about this university is that there are no exams in January. In my A-Levels, we had exams in January and they did not give a person enough time for preparation.

University is not just about assessments – it is an experience from which a student learns but also grows up and becomes more independent. “The new system would only encourage students to focus more on getting revision done, being assessed and getting a good grade rather than enjoying and being stimulated by the topics studied. In addition, the idea of 12 week terms seems exhausting, especially when one considers how tiring the current system is towards week 9 and week 10.

“It also angered me how brief the period was that the university gave to provide answers for the online questionnaire, it should have been longer. The questionnaire should also have been publicised better by the Students’ Union and the university.”

The Students’ Union urges the support of students so it can accurately vote in Senate, according to students’ opinions. “A request has been sent out to the Student Reps for any further volunteers, and postgraduates are so far underrepresented. We will continue to lobby the University to ensure that this consultation, as well as any future consultation is as wide-ranging and thorough as possible.”

The changes are likely to be implemented for the academic year, 2012-2013.

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