It’s been so long since I put anything on here, I don’t expect many people will still be reading. However, one of the proposals at the last ‘BOG’ (that’s the Bradford Offer Group in case you don’t know, I still get strange looks when I say “I’m off to the BOG”) was that we should improve communications by keeping a blog of what we’re doing. So until something else gets written I thought I bring this out from its state of suspended animation.
As the title suggests, I’ve been tasked with looking at the structure of the academic year, something Nigel Lindsey did a huge amount of work on previously. As Nigel found out, this is quiet a challenge to say the least (hence the title, I’m hoping a friendly paperclip will pop up with some suggestions). The Bradford Offer made a number of proposals about all sorts of things, but one was about a change in the structure of the year. To cut a long story short, the main points were around seeing if we could start the year later (to give more time for preparation and for students to get here) and to fit in supplementary assessments in before the end of July (mainly to allow students to plan better for September). Clearly, starting later and ending sooner are not necessarily compatible aims!
The biggest issue with this is the ‘crunch’ time between the end of the first assessments and the start of the supplementaries. Work needs to be marked, checked, the marks entered on the system, formally ‘approved’, then taken to exam boards to make decisions on the individual students. This, together with the sheer volume of examinations that we have, makes it quite a challenge.
Of course, other institutions mange to do this, and claim that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and although there’s some ‘pain’ in moving from one model to another, they are very adamant that they are in a better place now than before.
So work goes on. There’s a target of having a revised proposal to got to ASPC/Senate in the new year. How exact we can be about the impact and resources needed to do this remains to be seen as there’s the small issue of the Christmas break between now and then, but we’ll do our best.