Students at the University of Sussex have academic teaching scheduled on Wednesday afternoons, despite the University’s own policy against this.
Education officer Bethan Hunt described the issue as “hypocritical” and said: “I think it is unacceptable that students are being placed in a position of having to choose to play sport, partake in societies, volunteer or attend classes.”
On the University website, it states that the University “can make some firm commitments” to avoiding teaching on Wednesdays in order to allow members of sports teams to be able to train and travel to fixtures.
It states: “Teaching for all under- graduate students will not be scheduled after 1pm on Wednesday with the following exceptions (Films – an alternative evening showing will be available.)”
But students from a range of de- gree of subjects including Physics, Computer Science and Maths have come forward complaining they have lessons scheduled on this day.
Fourth-year Physics student Christopher Barber said: “We have a lecture and workshop starting at 1pm and finishing at 4pm. There are a few of us who need to take this module for our final year project and we play sport to team level. When the school was confronted with this issue we were just told to change module.
“Inevitably we are either going to have to miss an entire weeks worth of lectures for that module or let our teams down.”
Hunt said this response is unacceptable and that: “Students should not have to select modules based on timetabling availability.”
Third-year Maths student Hayley Wragg said: “Last year I had a Wednesday afternoon lecture that was worth 10 percent. I am on a sports team which meant I had to miss the lectures and complete the work without the information given in them.
“When I contacted the department office, they just said I’d have to use the online resources but this only included a few notes to a few of the lectures.”
Hayley was also advised to attend an alternative lecture, also scheduled on a Wednesday afternoon. She recalled that when she mentioned to her academic supervisor: ‘I thought the University wasn’t allowed Wednesday afternoon lectures’, the response she received from him was: ‘Well, there is one.’
Sofia Fernandez, a third year English Literature student, said: “My seminar tutor rearranged by seminar time from Monday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon.
“It was just a one-off, but it meant that I would have back to back two hour seminars, and four hours of teaching in a row is a bit too much to take on board.
“On this occasion, it didn’t affect me greatly, but I really don’t think tutors should be able to schedule seminars when they are really not supposed to”.
A University of Sussex spokesperson insisted that they take timetabling issues “very seriously”, stating that: “In a very small number of cases, there simply isn’t a time in the core week where courses can be placed to enable all students to attend.
“Sometimes, there is unfortunately no other place within the timetable that a particular course would fit.
“We take these timetabling issues very seriously and this term there have been ongoing discussions about a very small number of courses between the relevant school, the central timetabling team, the academic office and the pro-vice chancellor of teaching and learning.”
In addition, Clare Mackie, Pro-vice chancellor of teaching and learning stated: ““English and SLLC are vol- untary classes and extracurricular offering which does not clash with Wednesday pm. Social Work have advised that all of their students need to be available Wednesday afternoon for professional practice placements, although I note a few classes scheduled for Wednesday pm that have external contributors. Final year chemistry students have voluntary access to the labs but are not required to attend.”
Hunt, who is driving the initiative with support from communications officer Michael Segalov, met with Professor Mackie on Friday 24 October.
Hunt said: “[Mackie] wants aca- demic registrar Sharon Jones to print off a list of all undergraduate classes which are scheduled after 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon.”
Hunt also said that Mackie will be emailing all the schools who have ignored the policy asking them to rearrange these classes.