In our All-Student Survey in October 2023, many of you had comments and queries about your timetable for the 23/24 academic year.
Check out the feedback from our Timetabling team in response to your student voice:
My timetable isn’t perfect for me
The timetable contains over 115,000 hours of teaching for over 13,000 students. The constraints on the timetable are wide ranging and include student course combinations and module choices; departmental timetable requirements; room availability including specialist space restrictions; and staff availability.
The timetable for some programme are also influenced by Academic departments who have times and days which are fixed (49,500 hours – 43%). This makes it almost impossible to create a timetable which works for everyone, however we work hard to try to create timetables which contain as few gaps as possible/a free day each week.
Clarity and communication of the timetable from the department or in the App
Timetabling will continue to work closely with Academic departments and LIS to ensure that the timetable on the App is a true reflection of what happens on the ground. There has been a 22% drop in timetable changes after release to students compared to this point in 2022/23, meaning fewer late timetable changes for students. We hope to reduce this further moving forwards.
Large gaps or thinly spread timetables
The main causes of large gaps in student timetables (where not fixed) are the range of programmes that each module is used for, the module choices made by students, and the consistency of timetabling requirements requested by departments.
Where lots of students from different programmes are on a module, all their other modules add constraints. So, for one group of students, there may be no large gap on their timetable between Module A and Module C as they have Module B in between. However, another group of students may not have chosen Module B as an option, but to allow all students to attend Module C, a gap is required. Gaps are also affected by what teaching requirements are requested. If module requirements are not consistent week on week (a 2-hour lecture one week, a 1-hour practical the next etc), gaps are more likely to occur in weeks with less hours.
For 2023/24, only 13% of all timetable gaps in student timetables are over two hours. This is an improvement on the 15% for 2022/23. This is a statistic that timetable will continue to work on. However, for significant improvement, timetable requirements and module profiles need to be reviewed.
Only one session or just a few hours in a day
As with large gaps in the timetable, this is directly impacted (where not fixed) by the range of programmes that each module is used for, the module choices made by students, and the consistency of timetabling requirements requested by departments.
Where possible, Timetabling tries to give students a free day and reduce large gaps – this has led to a decrease in the number of instances where students attend just one session in a day.
Timetables across multiple campuses or sites
Where courses run at different locations, it is not always possible to avoid travel within the day, although this is done wherever possible. Where sessions are moved from their usual site to another, this is done due to lack of suitable space being available. These moves are discussed and agreed with Academic departments.
Late or early sessions
In the 2023/24 timetable, 89% of the teaching falls within “priority hours” (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 9am-6pm, Wednesday 9am-1pm and Friday 9am-4pm).
Where sessions must run at later times, these are affected by the same issues that can cause large gaps and increased timetable spread. Another key factor is the availability of specialist space (IT labs, Clinical Skills and Science Labs, and other practical spaces). These spaces are in high demand so later slots are required to fit everything in. Cleaning and set up time are also required for some specialist spaces so this adds to the length of sessions and therefore the length of the day.
Due to the size and complexity of the timetable, the current timetable requirements would not allow a move away from the 9am start.
Consistency within the timetable is heavily influenced by the teaching requirements that are requested by departments. If module requirements are not consistent week on week then the timetable cannot be consistent either. Despite this, Timetabling work hard to make the timetables as consistent as possible.
The number of students who have a consistent day free in the timetable has risen form 25% in 22/23 to 33% in 2023/24. Timetabling are also working with departments to improve consistency of data requirements for 2024/5 as this is a corner stone for creating a more consistent timetable.
Flexibility of delivery
Some students said they would prefer online sessions or an option for online, especially for commuting students. This information would need to be fed back to relevant departments as Timetabling build the type of teaching activity based on departmental requirements. Please speak to your department to express this preference who can then feed back to the Timetabling team.