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12 week semesters overwhelmingly defeated

The margin of defeat was significantly larger than in 2017 and 2020.

Photo: Aman Kapoor

The proposal to adopt 12 week semesters was overwhelmingly defeated at today’s Academic Board meeting. 

The 12 week model was defeated by 69 votes to 10. The alternative 12+1 week model — which would have seen week 13 turned into a revision week — was defeated by a margin of 55 to 15.

As a result, the current 13 week calendar will remain.

It is the third time in four years that the Academic Board has voted against 12 week semesters. The margin of defeat was significantly larger than in 2017 and 2020.

Throughout the meeting, staff and students of various faculties expressed vehement opposition to the two options.

Particular concerns were raised that a revised proposal had not gone through the Academic Standards and Policy Committee. Additionally, the voting process was described as “shambolic,” with board members saying no instructions were sent prior to the meeting and that recommendations were “poorly worded.”

Professor Alan Fekete, of the School of Computer Science, criticised the recommendations for being “incoherent,” saying he could not approve proposals that were not consulted on.

While staff agreed that the 12+1 model was more “nuanced,” Glen Davis, Professor of Clinical Exercise Sciences, said that course structures “[did] not need to be uniformly mandated.”

Dr Fernanda Penaloza, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies, noted that it was “unclear” why the proposal was still being raised, as it received the “same level of resistance” and “same arguments” against it at previous meetings.

Throughout the meeting, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Pip Pattison asserted that teaching and learning would not be impacted by the move to a 12 week semester, and that recommendations were a “direct response” to consultation.

Students’ Representative Council President Swapnik Sanagavarapu told Honi: “Today’s vote was a resounding success and confirmed what we already knew in theory and in practice: that 12 week semesters were a bad idea for staff and students.”

The defeat of 12 week semesters comes after a significant campaign organised by students and staff, with a forum and several protests held. Before the meeting, the Education Action Group held a small speak-out this morning which saw F23 go into lockdown.