Circulating ANU staff emails have revealed the University’s plan to alter the existing semester teaching periods. The ANU administration has indicated a shift from thirteen-week teaching periods to twelve-week teaching periods, starting from February 2017.
For any ANU student who has made it through a semester, it is painfully evident that course content is rarely covered in the given thirteen weeks. Reducing the semesters to twelve teaching weeks seems a bold move, given the amount of pressure lecturers and tutors already face to cover necessary content.
ANUSA’s submission concerning the calendar change includes statements from each student faculty representative. From this submission it is clear that every academic college is strongly opposed to losing a week each semester, each faculty noting the difficulty all courses currently face to cover compulsory content.
The alternative model proposed by the University was cutting the mid-semester breaks to one week per semester. This model would follow seven weeks teaching period, one-week break and the remaining six teaching weeks.
ANUSA college representatives were also strongly opposed to this proposal, considering that many students come from outside of Canberra and Australia, with one week of holidays being an insufficient time for students to travel home and see their families. Moreover, many courses also have assessments due during the mid-semester break. A one-week break would not adequately provide students with a relief from study if assessments were throughout that whole week. Hence, each college representative raised the issue of mental health, arguing that a two-week break was necessary for students to relax and refresh.
From this point it has been decided that the University will go ahead with the proposal of six teaching weeks, two-week break, followed by six teaching weeks. This change is to bring ANU’s term date in line with other Australian universities, in order to better facilitate transfers, enrollment applications and to give interstate students greater time to settle in Canberra.
While this justification has some weight, it is questionable as to why students will still be paying the same course fees considering the loss of a teaching week. Students will be losing two teaching weeks a year and yet still be paying for them.
Although the University has indicated that the loss of a teaching week will not drastically affect students, with week-one being more content-heavy it seems students and lecturers will be under increased pressure to cover the vital material.
Accordingly, it is very possible that students will be getting less ‘bang for their buck’.