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Survey shows 93% of students opposed to 12-week semesters

The proposal would see the introductory week replaced with an extended online orientation, with no change to fees or the amount of course content.

Image: Simon Wood

A recent report showed that an “overwhelming” proportion of students did not support the University’s proposal to reduce semester lengths to 12 weeks.

Of the 375 students who responded to a survey by the SRC, 351 (93.60%) were opposed. 13 students (3.47%) were in favour, while 11 (2.93%) were undecided.

The proposal would see the introductory week replaced with an extended online orientation, with no change to fees or the amount of course content.

Several students, particularly working students, expressed that covering the same amount of content in less time would increase both staff and student workload, with many fearing that the “unmanageable” workload would worsen their mental health.

The report raised that students would “pay the same fees for a reduced quality of learning.” Respondents, especially international students, were concerned that a 12-week semester could signal an increased reliance on online learning, which the report highlighted was “not a sufficient replacement” for in-person learning. 

Students also said they would receive a “less comprehensive education”, with less teaching time leading to content being taught “to fit to the assessments/” As a result, some students indicated that they would be less inclined to take advanced or difficult courses.

In response to the report, Acting SRC President Priya Gupta said that 12-week semesters would “threaten both the quality of our education and experience of university,” particularly for new students needing “time to settle into subjects and university.”

Students who did support shorter semesters cited the reason of longer holidays or shorter semesters. Additionally, students broadly called for changes to the workload, difficulty and timings of assessments, and more students (146, 39.14%) than not (104, 27.88%) supported increasing Summer and Winter School intensives, though Gupta argued that it “must not come at the expense of the quality of semesters or foreshadow trimesterisation.”

The University proposed 12-week semesters earlier this year, after similar proposals were rejected in 2017 and 2020.

The SRC has presented the report to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), with a forum with staff and student society representatives scheduled for 22 April.

The final vote on the proposal will take place at an Academic Board meeting on 7 May.