UG-Flex has captured lots of evidence / information about what the barriers are (many of them will be familiar to you all)What overarching messages can be drawn from this evidence? Staff (both in offices and schools) are struggling to manage current levels of curriculum flexibility. There is little or no scope for growth. This in turns places limitation on potential opportunities offered in term s of accelerated studyPost graduate taught coursesoverseas provisionlanguage provisionUG-Flex’s remit has been primarily enhancing systems and processes – however it has become clear that the issues go deeper than this (apparent that the system merely reflects the principles/rules the University applies)This prompted the project to look at its academic calendar and those used in other HEIs academic calendars (put in some stats) and to consider what might work best for Greenwich.Currently the university is organised around a 3 term academic year and there is compelling evidence that this constricts flexibilityStrong reasons for desemeserisation (proliferation of courses, stress of early exams) but it was recognised at the time that flexibility would be constrained - the result was a compromise / fudge. The picture at Greenwich seems to be one of confusion!What is needed is a set of agreed principles that should be applied when designing curricula (flexible or otherwise!)
We are all familiar with the standard academic year – made up of 3 terms, (registration and teaching in terms 1 and 2 and a small amount of teaching, but mainly assessment and progression in term C. Essentially there is a large admin effort at the start and finish. Currently, the student records system enforces the 3 term structure on all programmes without exception. UG-Flex has identified a new configuration which would introduce student centric terms and remove problems experienced by students starting at times across the academic year.when it comes to a non-standard model, such as the January start Masters infill, we will always struggle to come up with any systems enhancements to make this process better. Students are inserted into Term 2 with September starters. They are assessed, reassessed and progressed in Term 3 – main cycle process. In the following academic year they re-register and complete in Term 1. There is not time – on a parity with other Master students – for assessment, re-assessment between Term 1 and 2.
This isn’t a bid for a return to modularisation per se but it may be timely in the context of all the changes taking place for the University to agree a schedule for reviewing the academic calendar. Other institutions have done so, and of the 120 or so HEIs I’ve looked at around 50% use semesters with a subsequent assessment period. Around a quarter use the three term schedule with exams in term 3. 20% have adopted hybrid/bespoke models (e.g. trimester, quadmesters, and/or differential of calendars based on level of study. University of Central Lancashire has a combination of end of semester assessment and full year examined modules (with exams at the end of the year). Similarly Sheffield Hallam runs offers a combination of single semester and year-long programmes.City University operates a three term schedule, but has designated an assessment period in January with concurrent teaching allowed. Edinburgh Napier University operates trimesters, with subsequent assessment periods in December, April and August. Glasgow Caledonian also operated trimesters, with subsequent assessment periods varying in length depending on the level of student: e.g. Exams at the end of Trimester 1 are for one week for Level 1 students and two weeks for Levels 2, 3, 4 and Masters. Salford operates 3 semesters of 14 weeks with a 1 week inter semesters break (added on top of this is an induction week, 3 week Christmas vacation, 3 week Easter vacation). Hertfordshire operates two semesters for undergraduate study and three for post graduate study. Queen Mary University has 3 semesters and calls their semester 3 the “Examination Period”. Cambridge University (and many other “red brick” institutions, Oxford, Durham, Exeter, York, University of London [and its associated institutions]) favour a three term schedule of between 8 and 10/12 weeks, with end of year exams. Almost all of these have adopted a credit framework, but not modularisation or semesterisation.
University of Greenwich Academic Calendar<br />Statement of Principles<br />The calendar should first and foremost be driven by an academic rationale; it should reflect the needs of all students; be consistent and transparent; and comply with frameworks imposed by Government regulatory bodies<br />Requirements<br />The calendar should deliver: <br />Parity of student opportunity, access & experience irrespective of mode of study, programme start/finish date or student status;<br />Scope for differentiation based on need at different levels, between P/G and U/G and also at Levels 4, 5 and 6; <br />Teaching blocs of equal length;<br />Scheduled study/revision periods; <br />Defined points for assessment by examination for P/G and U/G study;<br />Opportunities for reassessment in an academic session; <br />Formalised progression points (PABs) that correspond with year round programme start and finish dates;<br />Formalised Summer teaching & learning activity;<br />Minimal disruption due to timing of Easter;<br />In identifying these requirements the following checks are noted:<br />Recognition that a more flexible academic calendar is not synonymous with growth and proliferation to the programme/course offer;<br />Acceptance of certain limits imposed by market forces and the requirement for intelligent resource deployment;<br />