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Semester Timetabling

Semester ONE 2018 /19 – 24/09/2018 to 26/01/2019

Subject to minor changes until week 3 of term

Teaching room bookings

Timetabling Principles

The University seeks to enhance the student experience through the development of a "student focused" timetable

  1. While Course/Subject Committees have delegated responsibility to implement this principle, ultimate responsibility for scheduling lies with the School within which the course/subject resides.
  2. Faculties and Schools must ensure an appropriate line of communication by identifying Timetabling Staff to liaise with the relevant staff from Physical Resources.
  3. The working day for full time undergraduate students is normally from 09:00 to 17:00 hours.
    • Late afternoon/evening sessions from 17:00 to 21:00 hours may be considered for post graduate students, (working) part-time students or, for example, to accommodate the joint teaching of full and part-time students.
    • When timetabling for late afternoon/early evening sessions, consideration should be given to the availability of facilities such as crèche, food outlets and public transport. These facilities will be different at different campuses.
  4. Course/Subject Committees should adhere to the following:
    • Students should not be expected to attend more than 4 continuous teaching sessions without a break. The use of three hour sessions should be minimised.
    • Students should be accommodated by a lunch break in the period 11:30 to 14:30 hours.
    • Wednesday afternoons must be kept free from full-time undergraduate teaching, except with Senate approval.

Students should receive their confirmed timetable schedule in good time

  • An increasing number of full-time students have external commitments such as part-time work or domestic responsibilities. Early release of timetable schedules supports students in managing these external commitments.
  • A final confirmed schedule should be available within two weeks of the start of each Teaching Period.
  • Earlier releases of provisional timetables should be clearly identified as ‘Subject to Change'.

Student timetables must be considered by the Course/Subject Committee and confirmed as appropriate to the demands of the course

  • Course/Subject teams should consider timetables at their Course/Subject Committee.
  • Course/Subject teams should be vigilant and proactive in resolving problems such as clashes or excessive daily schedules.
  • All students are entitled to similar scrutiny of their schedules regardless of the complexity of their provision.
  • While every effort will be made to encourage and facilitate choice, all optional modules cannot be guaranteed to be clash free.
  • Priority in the scheduling will be given to first year students especially in relation to the sequencing of activities (for example, lectures before seminars).

All students are offered a broadly similar experience

  • At a Course/Subject level, staff should ensure that any delivery constraints (e.g. lectures before labs/tutorials) are identified and built into the requests to Central Timetabling (Physical Resources). Such requests should be explicitly highlighted in correspondence to Central Timetabling.
  • As part of their Induction, students will receive guidance on interpreting their personal timetable (including location, options/compulsory classes, and other requirements).
  • Students are expected to familiarise themselves with their personal timetable and raise any issues (such as clashes or other issues) as early as possible.
  • Students will be given clear advice as to the appropriate protocol to follow in the event of a timetable clash. They are expected to follow this protocol.

There must be clearly defined channels of communication between the Faculty Academic Schools/Subjects and Central Timetabling with all parties engaging in a positive manner recognising the constraints under which each operates

Two operational interfaces are especially important, namely:

  • Between individual Academic Schools and Central Timetabling.
  • Between different Academic Schools involved in the delivery of courses (e.g. combined studies, single honours courses etc.).

To facilitate these relationships:

  1. Faculty or School-based groups must liaise directly with Central Timetabling as used to good effect this year by the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences. [Section 3.1 refers].
  2. Timetabling Preparation deadlines should be clearly identified by Central Timetabling. Schools should adhere to these deadlines.
  3. Schools must provide Central Timetabling with accurate information as early as possible.
  4. Schools should build on Good Practice identified in earlier years. For example:
    • Schools should endeavour to deliver the majority of their classes in a similar manner to the previous year, provided these arrangements worked well.
    • Schools must inform Physical Resources of any change in requirements as early as possible (e.g. withdrawal of a course/module, unanticipated over-recruitment or under-recruitment).
    • Preliminary and provisional timetable schedules should be reviewed as early as possible.
    • Selected Faculty/School Timetabling staff should be permitted ‘read-only’ access to Timetabling software.
    • There should be regular meetings of the groups involved in timetabling during the academic year to monitor requirements.
    • There should be on-going reviews with students via focus groups to identify issues that may need to be addressed in future years.
  5. Semester long activities should take precedence over occasional or ad hoc activities. That said, however, consideration needs to be given to:
    • The availability of high quality accommodation for managerial level short courses;
    • Modules delivered in a blended manner (where students attend intensively for a short time during the semester).
  6. Induction activities should use scheduled resources, typically resources scheduled for the entire semester.
    • Schools should consider the use of Registration Week for (some) induction activities so that these do not impact excessively on the teaching period. This is especially true for large group induction.
    • Other induction activities not disrupting the normal timetable may continue to be offered in week 1 and subsequent weeks.
    • To facilitate Registration week inductions, Physical Resources should ensure that rooms are prepared earlier than at present.
  7. Deliberate overbooking of resources and other practices aimed at achieving personal advantage is non-collegiate and is strongly discouraged.

Resources should be delivered in an efficient and effective manner

  1. In a rapidly evolving higher education landscape, the future brings even greater challenges for universities to produce student-focussed timetables that are both efficient and effective. With an increasing number of students working part-time and the blurring in distinction between full-time and part-time study, timetables need thorough consideration.
  2. Physical Resources needs to provide suitably flexible learning space and manage this efficiently.
  3. The Greater Belfast Development initiative will reduce the University’s footprint and as a consequence demand greater space efficiency. The utilisation factor derived from the percentage time a room is occupied multiplied by its percentage occupancy currently stands at 32%. Physical Resources has been tasked to increase this figure to 50% for the new Belfast campus.
  4. Physical Resources aims to support a relatively even distribution of teaching across the working week. However analysis of the actual distribution across the week reveals that Tuesday (27%) and Thursday (28%) are overused and Friday (10%) is underused.
  5. The 09:15 teaching slot is underutilised, particularly on a Monday, and the 15:15 and 16:15 slots are also underused. Teaching throughout the week tends to be concentrated between the hours of 10:15 and 14:15 creating a high demand for space during this peak period.
  6. Physical Resources advises that 25% of teaching sessions are three (consecutive) hours or more. Rooms block booked in this manner were frequently not used for all of this time.