RGU:Union is pleased to annouce that Academic Council have now approved a new academic calendar for 2018/19 which has exams before Christmas! Over the past year, RGU:Union has been working with the university to consider a change in the academic year to have first semester assessments take place in December rather than in January. This work has involved conducting student surveys, attending committee meetings, establishing a working group to eventually design a calendar between students and staff that reflects what students want to see.
Click here to see the NEW academic calendar for 2018/19!
Where It All Began - AGM 2016
|The issue of the academic calendar was put forward to RGU:Union as a motion at our Annual General Meeting in February 2016. Students argued that having the exams moved earlier would have a positive impact on their preparation for exams and assessments, their wellbeing, their experience and ablity to enjoy holidays as well as to better align with other universities. There was an ammendment passed that the Union should seek wider feedback before taking the issue further. 65% of students at the AGM voted in favour of the change, so the motion passed.
The First Survey
After the AGM, we wanted to gather as much student feedback as possible to try and inform our decisions and make a case to the university. In March to May 2016, we ran a simple survey online asking students 'Would you like to see the academic calendar moved to have assessments before the winter break?'. This survey was able to get over 630 responses from students across the university.
The results of the survey saw that 72% of students were in favour of the move. The purpose of this survey was to add additional backing to the union's case for the university to review the calendar. At this point, we hadn't spoken to the university about the change, as we thought we would have to get more feedback first.
The Blocking of the Calendar
Our first action around the Academic Calendar was in March 2016, when the universities Academic Council was presenting the Academic Calendars for 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 for approval. Your Union Presidents blocked the approval of these calendars, and raised to the committee that there was a demand from students to see the calendar changed to have exams before Christmas. The Union was expecting to have to present a detailed argument to convince the committee to consider the change, however, luckily the University were really open to listening, and decided to establish an Academic Calendar Working Group to review the calendar.
The BIG Survey
One of the first activities of the Working Group was to run another significant survey to gather as much student feedback as possible! In November 2016 we issued a survey which got over 1,700 responses with 73% of students in favour of exams moving before Christmas, and 27% against the change. The survey also noted that the key issues motivating students for the change was being prepared for their semester one assessments and their personal wellbeing. However, we also noticed that while the majority of schools favoured a change to the calendar, Gray's School of Art was 50/50 for the change.
It was important to take this information and feedback into account when we went to design the new calendar. It is significant that we were able to get so much student input to the decision, as in 2014, RGU set up a working group to consider the calendar, but there was very limited student involvement, and no wider feedback surveys, so the university decided to keep the calendar the same. However, this time round, a massive part of the decision was shaped and decided by students.
Designing the Calendar
After all of that feedback, it was time to put it to action and design a new calendar. The Working Group met again with some proposed options and had detailed discussions about what a new calendar could look like. This included discussing everything from access to welfare services over Christmas, to marking times for assessment, to avaliablity of accommodation, to impact on support services such as IT and Library, to experience of students being able to enjoy holidays, to importantly students preparation for exams and assessment. We worked through all the issues, and made exceptions to allow the calendar to work for students and staff.
In response to Gray's feedback, we introduced a new hand in week in January to allow assessment submission for items which take longer. We added a longer marking weeks and post assessment break in January, to allow staff time to mark coursework before the start of semester two, and so staff don't have to mark exams over Christmas. We made the reading weeks flexible for each school so they can place it at the best time to allow student to prepare for assessments.
In March 2017, just over one year after the original motion was put forward, Academic Council at RGU passed the new calendar for 2018/19!
- 10th September 2018 - Start of Teaching and Freshers Week [One Week Earlier]
- 10th September 2018 - 7th December 2018 - 12 Weeks of Teaching + Reading Week [Reading Week is Flexible for Schools]
- 10th December 2018 - 21st December 2018 - 2 Weeks of Exams and Assessment [Moved from January to December]
- 22nd December 2018 - 6th January 2019 - Winter Break
- 7th January 2019 - 11th January 2019 - Coursework Hand In Week [Optional Submission for Modules]
- 12th - 27th January 2019 - Post Assessment Break [Marking Weeks for Staff]
- 28th January 2019 - Start of Teaching and Refreshers Week [Same as current calendar]
- 28th January 2019 - 29th March 2019 - 9 Weeks of Teaching
- 1st April 2019 - 7th April 2019 - Spring Break
- 8th April 2019 - 3rd May 2019 - 3 Weeks of Teaching + Reading Week [Reading Week is Flexible for Schools]
- 6th May 2019 - 17th May 2019 - 2 Weeks of Exams and Assessments
- 20th May 2019 - 31st May 2019 - Post Assessment Break [Marking Weeks for Staff]
- 27th May 2019 - Start of Teaching (Semester 3 Students Only)
- 27th May 2019 - 6th September 2019 - 12 Weeks of Teaching + Reading Week + 1 Week of Assessment
Thanks to You!
This change is only possible thanks to your students' union and on your students representatives putting forward the case, engaging in the surveys and working with the university to design a calendar that works for students! This is a big win for students, and a huge change, and RGU:Union is incredibly proud to be the voice of students at RGU and help make these improvements possible! Thanks to RGU for listening and taking student feedback so seriously! We look forward to seeing the new calendar introduced and the positive impact that it will bring to students at RGU!