UTS to Introduce Decmester System

Tristan White

The University of Technology Sydney will have a new teaching calendar to come into effect in 2018.

The model, which includes ten equal-length sessions each separated by a three-week break, was announced to students in a broadcast email yesterday by the Co-Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor, who cited the need to “closer align our teaching sessions with those of other universities.”

This decision was made as consequence of close consultation with student groups and positive feedback from students and staff over other recent calendar changes.

Students were reassured that only the two middle sessions (to be known as Late-Autumn-and-Early-Winter Session and Late-Winter-And-Very-Early-Spring Session) were compulsory, and they would still be eligible to all travel and student benefits if they only studied full-time in these sessions.

It was also stressed that the changed dates “will not affect students’ study load, course duration, or fees,” but advised students that they could spread out their load or fast-track their degree, if any subjects were actually offered in the other sessions.

Each session now includes one “preparation week” (where no formal teaching is conducted), a “study vacation” week (where no formal teaching is conducted), and an exam period, stretching from 12:01am to 11:59pm on the subsequent Saturday.

Exams will assess the same level of content as those held in the previously lauded trimester system, but to ensure they all fit within the stipulated period, they will be a maximum of 15 minutes in length.

Clarifying some uncertainties in a follow-up email, the Vice Deputy Executive Officer outlined several “potential areas for adjustment,” including offering at least one face-to-face class per session for selected subjects, and increasing the number of subjects offered in non-core sessions which is presently zero. These adjustments will be considered “within the next decade”.

A spokesperson for the UTS Students’ Association acknowledged the rationale for the transition, but expressed concern that a “minor downside” of the model was the reduced teaching time within each session. “It doesn’t take a maths degree to work out that by increasing the number of sessions per year, the length of each is going to be much less.”

Responding to these comments, the Co ADVC conceded each session was now “slightly shorter,” but also stressed that it was important to remember that quality of learning is more than the number of weeks listed on paper.

“In practice, some faculties presently don’t use any of the weeks for formal teaching, so the total learning time will remain the same or become longer,” they explained.

“Many students don’t really start learning the subject until the week before the exam, so we’re just trying to be practical by not having eleven pointless weeks of lectures and tutorials beforehand.”

The Co ADVC acknowledged that some students may still have concerns and today advised that they address any and all queries at a student forum, which was held last Thursday at 1PM.