Students’ Union to Uni of Bath: “we cannot support change to academic year”

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The University of Bath Students’ Union has given its verdict on proposed changes to the academic year shape in a open letter to the University’s Senior Management Team, claiming they would “actively support action which maintains our current academic year.”

The move comes after a period of consultation on the changes which, if moved forward, would see all the academic year’s exams take place at the end of the second semester.

Bernie Morely, Vice Chancellor for Learning & Education

Bernie Morely, Vice Chancellor for Learning & Education who proposed the changes

In the letter, the Students’ Union highlights that the current academic year “is extremely popular among students”, scoring 4.5 out of 5 in a poll conducted by the SU. In the same poll, which had over 1,300 respondents, students also rated the new proposals with a score of 1.6.

The Students’ Union concluded that,  “considering all of this information that has been collected in the consultation process from students, some of which has been discussed in this letter, the Students’ Union cannot support any change to the academic year which looks like the structure initially suggested by the University in the consultation.”

Last month, over 2,000 students signed a petition criticising the proposal.

Students’ Union President Jordan Kenny has previously criticised the lack of communication on the proposed changes, claiming that “the SU stand isn’t 100% against the changes, but rather against the consultation.”

This was in response to the original open consultation which was organised over January exams and the first week of the semester. It was, however, extended for two weeks at the Students’ Union’s request, ending last Thursday.

A more in-depth explanation of the pros and cons can be found here

How the new academic year shape could look

How the new academic year shape could look

A University spokesperson told bathimpact that the proposed changes were a “speculative model [which]had been an effective conversation starter”, stressing that no decisions had been made.

“As a result we now have a clearer understanding of what is valued about our current semester-based system by students and staff, and where you feel that improvements can be made,” they went on to say.

The University argues that the creation of three ‘terms’ would allow more time for research and give more opportunity to link modules, increasing understanding of the course.

But campaigners argue that the move would ‘greatly increase stress during assessment, as students would sit their entire years exam in one period’, and ‘require students to revise for modules they had completed five months before exams’.

The Students’ Union will now enter conversation on how best to proceed.  It is unlikely, however, that any changes agreed upon would be implemented until 2017.

You can view the entire the open letter here: Open letter to the University on shape of the academic year.

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Benjamin is the former Deputy Editor-in-Chief of bathimpact and covers stories on University of Bath, University of Bath Students' Union, Bath politics and student issues

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