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University ignore student anger on timetabling

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Pilot scheme to go ahead in spite of student criticism at badly advertised meetings

Guild expresses opposition to teaching day changes

Lectures scheduled for 8.30am-6.30pm next year

The University is set to implement its original plans to extend the teaching day in 2015/16, despite strong student criticism.

Over the past two weeks the University has hosted a series of open meetings “primarily designed as forums for students to raise specific issues they may encounter as a result of the changes.” However, the discussions have inadvertently provided an opportunity for students to voice their opposition to the plans.

While the meetings featured in the University In Brief newsletter, many students complained that they had been poorly advertised. A reminder email sent to the whole student body only reached inboxes on the morning of Tuesday 25 November, the day of the first meeting.

For many students it was the first chance to express their opinions on the scheme, which the University has definite plans to enforce.

At the meeting held on 25 November, Ariel Edge, Humanities College Manager, said the decision to change the teaching day was made “following a rigorous process of research and data analysis.”

She also referred to consultations regarding the change with various student bodies, which were held in term three of last year.

Sam Johnson, Music Rep for the Guild’s Societies Executive said: “although they did consult us [last term] we were pretty much…ignored.”

In an email seen by Exeposé, the University’s “consultation” limited student leaders to choosing from three options: extending the teaching day until 7pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; Starting at 8:30 and finishing at 6:30 on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and teaching until 9pm on a Thursday.

In addition, Johnson added that the email “consultation” was “mediated through the A&V desk,” which made him feel “quite removed” when reporting the options to the ExTunes committee and members.

He said: “they should have had consultation talks in person last term,” adding “the talks this term weren’t long enough. It feels very strategic, arranging these meetings at the end of term.”

A University spokesperson argued the process of the open meetings was successful, saying: “we have already heard from a student whose child attends nursery making it impossible to attend an 8.30am lecture.

“By understanding these sorts of issues, we can ensure that we have the right mitigation in place to support them when these modest changes are piloted in 2015.”

But the Guild has expressed concern. Ben Street, VP Education said: “The Students’ Guild continues to oppose the planned extensions to the teaching day. The extended day will have a detrimental effect on the student experience and I will continue to press for mitigations to be put in place by the University. Thank you to those who attended the meetings and made their concerns known. I would encourage anyone who wasn’t able to attend to contact me so I can pass on issues to the University.”

Laura-Jane Tiley and Jennifer Garside, Students’ Guild Societies Officers, said: “we are disappointed that the changes to the teaching day are going ahead.

“The impact on societies at a time when we are already struggling to accommodate them all in terms of space is extremely concerning. We are particularly concerned that extended days will deter people from getting involved.”

Laura Payten, BodySoc President said of the plans: “having extra-curricular responsibilities is important to university life and a lot of people might miss out on this opportunity, which can damage the mental and potentially physical health of students.”

Sophy Coombes-Roberts, Captain of the Women’s Lacrosse first team said: “Most of the Uni’s top sports teams train early in the morning (7-9am) as it is the only time we can get the whole team together. With the longer teaching day either our practices will be cut short or we will be up on the rubber crumb at 6:30am.”

Emily Leahy, News Editor 

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