Changes to the academic year 2013/14 and Worcester Weeks

by

Calendar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Curriculum 2013?

Curriculum 2013 is the term we have adopted as a shorthand to describe changes to be introduced from September 2013 to course structures, course content and delivery for new students and the changes to the academic year that will affect new and continuing students.

I’ve heard that the new academic year will contain Worcester Weeks, what are they?

From September 2013, as part of the changes to introduce Curriculum 2013, the academic year will be structured to include three Worcester Weeks when the normal timetable will be suspended to enable a range of alternative learning activities to be scheduled by your course teams.

Why have Worcester Weeks been introduced?

The fundamental objective of Worcester Weeks is to provide students with an enriched learning experience to complement the opportunities provided elsewhere in the curriculum by providing the space to develop cross-course activities such as employability/careers fairs, student conferences, project working, visits and speakers and skills sessions.  Worcester Weeks will enable courses to provide opportunities outside the main timetable and will allow different courses and years to work together for mutual benefit.

Have students been consulted?

Yes, students have been consulted at all stages of the process of developing Curriculum 2013.  Many of the current ideas for changes to curricula at Worcester stemmed from a special student conference organised in 2010.  Students said that they wanted opportunities to add value to their studies and to engage in different forms of learning.  Also, at course committee meetings, where the StARs feed in course development ideas from students, there have often been requests for more opportunities for practical learning and further opportunities to develop their wider skills, which can be delivered in Worcester Weeks.  Your course tutors should be sharing their ideas for Worcester Week activities with you via Course Committees and discussion with your StARs.  Equally, your student union representatives have been involved in the process of developing Worcester Weeks, through their involvement in University committees where these ideas have been developed and via discussions with the StARs in the various SU forums.

Does this affect all students?

No, not all students.  Worcester Weeks will be implemented for all University-based undergraduate honours degree programmes, with the exception of professional programmes (e.g. midwifery, initial teacher training). They will be introduced for all years/ levels of undergraduate study in 2013/14, as an integral part of your course.

How will this affect when I am required to be in attendance at University and what are the dates for Worcester Weeks?

The key change is the removal of the long `gap’ in teaching between semester one and semester two in January, but keeping a 3 week Christmas break.  The academic year, when students are expected to be in attendance, will be longer to incorporate the extra three Worcester Weeks although the start and end of the academic year remain the same point as previous years (with teaching starting in late-September and finishing in mid-May).  Two Worcester Weeks will take place during semester one, in weeks 5 and 9 of the timetable.  These are 21st – 25th October 2013, 18th – 22nd November 2013 (when graduation ceremonies also take place).  This will mean that some semester one teaching will now take place after the Christmas break.

There will be a three week break for Christmas after which students will return for the final semester one taught sessions and an assessment week.  There will then be no `break’ in teaching and semester two will begin with the third Worcester Week (27th – 31st January 2014), followed by 12 weeks of teaching, two assessment weeks and a feedback and advice week as currently operates.

Where can I find details of the new academic year structure?

The dates for the 2013/14 academic year can be accessed via your SOLE page.

http://www.worcester.ac.uk/registryservices/documents/semesterdates201314(2).pdf

How does this affect the structure of my course?

The structure of your course will not change, except that you will now have these extra Worcester Weeks activities incorporated into your programme of study.  The choice of modules and the pattern of assessments will be the same.  The new Curriculum 2013 programmes are only being introduced for new first year students from September 2013 and continuing students will remain on their existing programmes of study.

Are Worcester Weeks the same as Directed Study “Reading” Weeks?

No.  Worcester Weeks are a new initiative and replace the `breaks’ in the timetable known as Directed Study Weeks.  Whilst some courses have used Directed Study Weeks to provide extra activities for students others have not, and have left students to use the time for their own study/activities for example for assignments, Independent Studies or placements .  With the introduction of Worcester Weeks all courses will be identifying specific activities for students to engage in which will be part of your course.

Do I have to attend the activities during Worcester Weeks?

Yes you do – It’s important that students and staff understand that Worcester Weeks are not an opportunity to have a holiday.  They are intended to be integral to courses and are about adding value in terms of interest, inspiration and innovation in learning experiences.  Consequently, as with any other part of your course, you are expected to engage.  Many courses will also schedule academic tutorials in Worcester Weeks.

Some students are used to spending “reading weeks” volunteering and undertaking internships – will these opportunities still be available to them or will attendance for Worcester Weeks be mandatory?

Whilst students are expected to attend the activities scheduled by courses in Worcester Weeks, students should also be able to undertake other activities which enhance their studies and their personal development.   Indeed, participating in voluntary activities or placement opportunities might be the specific focus of a week in some courses.  Students should ask their StARs to raise these questions at course committee meetings so that they can report back on what activities might be accommodated and ensure that there is sufficient flexibility in the new system so that students are not disadvantaged.

However, students should not view Worcester Weeks as `empty weeks’ which offer the only place to slot in these activities and you should think carefully about how these opportunities can be combined throughout your programme of study.  Students are encouraged to discuss their personal development plans with academic tutors throughout their studies and to take advantage of the range of opportunities both within the course curriculum and those offered by the SU and the University to build a strong personal profile.  Opportunities from Worcester Weeks are part of this.

Many students rely on “reading weeks” to do lots of concentrated study.  Will this still be possible during Worcester Weeks?

Students should not assume that they will have any blocks of free time.  However, it is likely that final year students will be directed to use time during Worcester Weeks to work on their Independent Studies, alongside some tailored support activities for this.  In addition, subject areas are being encouraged to look at removing the bunching of assignment hand-in dates, with a view to having intervals between hand-in-dates so that students can plan their work more effectively and not have to cram activity into specific concentrated blocks.

How will Worcester Weeks be organised?

During Worcester Weeks students will be engaged in planned, structured learning activities.  This is likely to be a combination of ‘taught’ time, directed learning activity and individual study. ‘Taught’ time might include online activities, group work, work-based learning, educational visits and a range of other activities, as well as direct contact time.  The details of the activities planned will be contained in your course handbook and/or other course documentation given out to you at the start of the year.  In your course programme these will not be labelled as `Worcester Weeks’ as courses have been encouraged to develop their own activities tailored to courses, using their own terminology; so you will see things such as `employability week’, `philanthropy week’ or `extended induction week’ in your programme.

I commute a long way to study, will it be worth my while coming in for these activities?

It’s very important that courses take into account the particular needs and circumstances of students who travel to study.  It would not be fair to expect students to travel in to University during Worcester Weeks for short sessions.  These are the kinds of issues which should be raised at by your StARs at course committee meetings.

How do I find out more information about what is planned for my Worcester Weeks?

Hopefully your course tutors have already shared with you their outline ideas for Worcester Week activities through the course committee meetings and other course forums.  Your courses should be supplying you with further information about the activities planned for Worcester Weeks soon.  If your course is not discussing these with you then you should ask your StARs to raise this with the Course Leader and at your course committee meeting.

How will Worcester Weeks work for Joint Honours students?

Joint Honours students will be in the advantageous position of having a wide range of Worcester Week activities from which to benefit, and therefore are advised to plan carefully and to discuss with their academic tutor a schedule for all three weeks in a given year.  Some JH students will naturally tend to view one subject as their ‘first’ or ‘major’ subject and so will tend to follow the schedule of activities for that subject and ‘fill in’ any essential learning from the second subject.  JH students may also find that their two subjects have planned some very similar activities, for example in relation to employability, and it will make sense to participate in the activities that seem most of benefit to you as an individual.

Will the new academic year mean that students’ opportunities to study abroad for part of the time will be curtailed?

No – students will have the same opportunities as now to undertake study abroad.

Advertisements

18 Responses to “Changes to the academic year 2013/14 and Worcester Weeks”

  1. Alison Barratt Says:

    I appreciate the idea behind the Worcester Weeks. What concerns me is that I am a full-time CAMHS Foundation Degree student, working and fulfilling my work placement commitments. I really struggled to complete my assignments over the Christmas period as unlike some other students, I have work commitments over all holiday periods along with family commitments. It worries me that this is overlooked. Each week we have set work relating to our course and this reduces the time I have for working on particular assignments. I absolutely relied on the breaks to produce my assignments and In no way did I wait until the last minute. I have genuine concerns that the completion and standard of my assignments will be compromised by this change. Many students have other work and family commitments and I feel that this is going to put extra pressure on their chances of successful course completion.

    • Lesley La-Croix Says:

      Hello Alison, I am a new student at the University of worcester who has recently joined The Voice Newspaper team.. I have been asked to do an article on the Worcester Weeks and its structure, However after reading some of the pitfalls I have decided to include some of the implications this will have on existing students and wonder if it would be in order to quote some of your comments in my report.

      Kind regards
      Lesley La-Croix (Drama & Performance student) 1st year

  2. K.H Says:

    “How does this affect the structure of my course?

    The structure of your course will not change, except that you will now have these extra Worcester Weeks activities incorporated into your programme of study. The choice of modules and the pattern of assessments will be the same. The new Curriculum 2013 programmes are only being introduced for new first year students from September 2013 and continuing students will remain on their existing programmes of study.”

    ^^^Does the above mean that existing students will continue with the old semester dates with a reading week, and that curriculum 2013 will only apply to new students? Or is that just wishful thinking?

    • Registry Services (Pick1) Says:

      Does this affect all students?

      No, not all students. Worcester Weeks will be implemented for all University-based undergraduate honours degree programmes, with the exception of professional programmes (e.g. midwifery, initial teacher training). They will be introduced for all years/ levels of undergraduate study in 2013/14, as an integral part of your course.

      • lemony7 Says:

        Registry: please clarify as the main post contradicts itself, and your reply does not answer.

        Are all “University-based undergraduate honours degree programmes, with the exception of professional programmes (e.g. midwifery, initial teacher training)” to run off this new timetable, or “The new Curriculum 2013 programmes are only being introduced for new first year students from September 2013 and continuing students will remain on their existing programmes of study.”.

        This ambiguity may be causing lots of students unnecessary stress and upset; it definitely is for me.

  3. N.M. Says:

    “Have students been consulted?

    Yes, students have been consulted at all stages of the process of developing Curriculum 2013. Many of the current ideas for changes to curricula at Worcester stemmed from a special student conference organised in 2010.”

    The students who studied at the University in 2010 when this conference was organised have either finished their studies or are currently in their last year, and will no longer be at the University by the time changes are introduced. No one asked me or any of my fellow students and I don’t think that’s fair, and it’s certainly not democratic. I only heard about the changes a month ago and expected someone to get in touch with us and discuss this before the changes are introduced. As I can see, I’m not the only one concerned about the amount of time we’ll have to complete our assignments. Next year will be my final and I’ll need time to focus, and produce quality work!

    • Lesley La-Croix Says:

      Hello N.M I am a new student at the University of worcester who has recently joined The Voice Newspaper team.. I have been asked to do an article on the Worcester Weeks and its structure, However after reading some of the pitfalls from other students on here, I have decided to include some of the implications this will have on existing students and wonder if I could use some of your views in my report.

      Kind regards
      Lesley La-Croix (Drama & Performance student) 1st year

      • N.M. Says:

        Hi Lesley,

        You are more than welcome to use them. I’m curious to see your report. If you want to contact me for more info just let me know I can give you my email address.

  4. E.B Says:

    So now semester 1 is 12 weeks straight without a break? How do you think that will affect people with disabilities who may already struggle with the workload/attendance requirements, and who use the breaks to recuperate physically and mentally and get a head start/catch up on their assignments? I can speak for several of us when I say that we struggle enough with these breaks in, let alone if we don’t even have those. It makes it very difficult to arrange treatment too – it’s often not possible to arrange treatment during timetabled lectures as they’ll have side effects preventing me from studying. If my illness goes downhill quickly and there aren’t any weeks off coming up, what can I do? Have the treatment, be unwell enough to attend, not hand in assignments, have to quit? My doctors won’t take kindly to me saying I can’t have any treatment for 3 months…or more. There’s not even a weeks break between semester 1 and semester 2 now… when am I supposed to have necessary treatment for my illnesses? Similarly, even people without illnesses/disabilities need breaks to recuperate and ground themselves after stressful periods. Not that I have, but what about people who have already arranged intern-ships/holidays etc. during break weeks in 13/14?

    How do you think it’ll affect the countless numbers of first years who quit in the first semester? 12 weeks without a break will be very daunting for them and I can very easily see more people dropping out.

    I personally haven’t heard a word of this until now and I’ve been studying here for two years. I have very real concerns about travelling far each day to sit around and do directed activities that may or may not have any bearing/relevance to us at all. What exactly are we going to be doing? All it’s going to do is breed discontent in most of the students when we’d rather be at home getting on with our actual assignments… y’know, those things that count towards our grade?

    It all feels very much like school, and that isn’t a good thing at all. God knows what we’ll be doing in these weeks! I genuinely can’t think of anything that would be helpful to do in these weeks that we haven’t already done in integrated studies etc. What are the attendance requirements during these weeks? The icing on the cake would be if there are long hours and full days when we don’t usually have them – some of us can’t cope with this and have to have our timetable arranged around our attendance abilities.

    • Jennifer Says:

      You have brought up a very valid point.

      Being a student moving on to the Education Studies Top-Up (which will have Worcester Weeks), and having to be in some form of voluntary/employed placement, this could be very disruptive. I like the idea, don’t get me wrong; and personally I am able to do this due to the being in voluntary work, but over half my class are parents in paid employment with little flexibility. How will they be able to go around it, when we are expected to attend? The only reason they can do the Top-Up is because the majority of modules are optional and variable for different schedules!!

      It might be that because do not know the actual times this is less work than we think, and it says some will be tailored to our course. But the fact there is no more break in between, when last year I practically depended on it, and your point as well, I have some doubt. I was aware of this previously, being a student representative, but hopefully in September this will clarified. I would suggest you email Registry Services and voice your concerns.

    • lemony7 Says:

      Well said; thank you. I have the same concerns and need to know how these are going to be addressed.

      I was a student at Worcester Uni in 2010 and was definitely not consulted about this!

    • Lesley La-Croix Says:

      Hello Jennifer, I am a new student at the University of worcester who has recently joined The Voice Newspaper team.. I have been asked to do an article on the Worcester Weeks and its structure, However after reading some of the pitfalls I have decided to include some of the implications this will have on existing students and wonder if it would be in order to quote some of your comments in my report.

      Kind regards
      Lesley La-Croix (Drama & Performance student) 1st year

      • Jennifer Says:

        Hi Lesley,

        Yes that is absolutely fine. I would like to add that it would be much better if they could state rough schedules of different courses Worcester Weeks, rather than being left in the unknown.

  5. K.H Says:

    Another point I feel I should make. I consider myself well informed with news concerning the university and particularly with issues that affect me. However, the first I knew about anything to do with Worcester Weeks was when there was a Facebook status on the Uni page saying to come take a look at this page. The lack of communication is something I have found very infuriating.

    I must also add that N.M. makes a very sound point in that those students who were consulted will either have already left, or will be doing so shortly. There has been a lack of communication about the implementation of this new curriculum which I feel is unfair and as N.M. rightly pointed out, undemocratic. Everyone I have spoken to regarding this issue is not happy.

    • Lesley La-Croix Says:

      Hello K.H, I am a new student at the University of worcester who has recently joined The Voice Newspaper team.. I have been asked to do an article on the Worcester Weeks and its structure, However after reading some of the pitfalls I have decided to include some of the implications this will have on existing students and wonder if it would be in order to quote some of your comments in my report.

      Kind regards
      Lesley La-Croix (Drama & Performance student) 1st year

  6. Registry Services (Pick1) Says:

    The changes we have been making to the academic year, do take into account student concerns about study time and workload. From next year there will be a three week Christmas break, rather than two weeks. All subject areas are introducing 30 credit modules for year 1 and some are also introducing them for year 2 also, which will allow assessment deadlines to be staggered through the year rather than bunched together. We have revised our assessment policy to specifically reduce the weight of summative assessment in order to put more emphasis on formative feedback. Research evidence suggests that the long break from Christmas through to the start of semester 2 in February does not support student retention and learning. Of course, the changes will not be equally advantageous to all students, but we do think that the changes we are making will be of benefit to the majority of students. We have not moved, as some other Universities have done to having a straight 15 weeks before Christmas and 15 weeks after Christmas with only Easter as a break.

    We have listened to what students have said about learning and teaching strategies that encourage engagement and active learning, that relate to being employable and to developing the skills for success both academically and in later life. Thus we want to provide students with opportunities to engage in stimulating and productive learning that is not confined by the constraints of a timetable. We also want students to be able to have an edge on graduates from other Universities wherever possible – hence our emphasis on innovative learning and employability.

    Whilst we have not been able to consult with all current students about the changes, we have listened to student representatives through the Students Union, and we hope that StARs will now be able to discuss with course leaders the arrangements for Worcester Weeks.

  7. K.H Says:

    Has any consideration been given in regards to international students? Although I do not have to fly long-haul, I still have to fly home for holidays. Being away for 6/7 weeks at a time is long enough but 12 weeks is just mad. I depended on the reading week to be able to go home and see my family and friends. I also depended on the longer Christmas holiday to have enough time to complete work for assignments/revision for exams as well as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. By the sounds of things, this is certainly not going to happen next year.

    • Lesley La-Croix Says:

      Hello K.H, I am a new student at the University of worcester who has recently joined The Voice Newspaper team.. I have been asked to do an article on the Worcester Weeks and its structure, However after reading some of the pitfalls I have decided to include some of the implications this will have on existing students and wonder if it would be in order to quote some of your comments in my report.

      Kind regards
      Lesley La-Croix (Drama & Performance student) 1st year

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: