Posted on Fri 26 Feb 2021 at 13:40 by Annie Willingham
Yesterday we held our second Academic Council and it was so great to see so many of you there. I provided an update on what I had been working on recently which you can read more about here and here. We were joined at Academic Council by Keith Zimmerman (University's Chief Operating Officer), Peter Lambert (Pro Vice Chancellor of Learning and Teaching) and Momna Hejmadi (Associate Dean of Science). Academic Reps were invited to be part of faculty / school breakout rooms to discuss issues with workload and what their views were on the Bath Blend. There was also an opportunity to hold Senior Management to account in a Q&A session, below are some of the key themes that emerged.
Returning to Campus
Keith Zimmerman highlighted how the University are looking forward to the 29th March when some element of teaching returns. Momna Hejmadi later explained that courses that are practical based and those that have assessments linked to practicals will have been prioritised to come back to campus in line with the government guidance. Your departments will reach out to you shortly if they have not done so already.
Reliability of testing
Keith emphasised the importance of booking a lateral flow test as they are important to help reduce transmission and that the lateral flow test were extremely good at indicating if there has been infection.
When the question about University-wide tuition fees rebates was asked. Keith said that large scale tuition refunds are not being considered at the moment - the University's financial position is challenging and there has been a large investment into the student experience this year, although it was recognised that not all students will feel this way. This is not a settled position, as universities continue to push this debate up to government. Individual/groups of students can put in a complaint to the University and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for individual-level refunds. You can also contact the SU Advice and Support team here.
As soon as the University can they will let students know, if we are able to keep to the governments roadmap it could be likely that they go ahead in some form but there is no guarantee. They want to hold them but are waiting untl they safely can.
There is a Q & A guidance on the University website.
September Return and the Bath Blend
Peter Lambert highlighted that this is currently being discussed and may change but at the moment it is looking like their will be 2 scenarios.
- Scenario 1- we will continue in lockdown there will still be social distancing
- Scenario 2- No social distancing back to normal but what should we retain from our experiences with the Bath Blend from this year.
Academic Reps are playing a crucial role in departments highlighting what has worked well and what hasn't worked so well this year.
Some of the lessons learnt this year by the University are:
- We need more consistency in areas such as Moodle places, recoding lectures, exams, interactive online learning.
- And we must be able to adapt to different scenarios as they change.
- We must allow more flexibility for departments to be flexible with how they teach
- We must try and reduce the workload of students, this is a priority
Most lectures are being recorded now, there is a digital recordings policy currently being written to make sure this continues next academic year.
The University are currently looking into the feedback from Semester 1 exams, however, on the whole the 24 hour window will be remaining as students felt it was most successful. This being said if a department needs a timed exam they have to go through their associate dean and it is discouraged as much as possible.
Academic reps raised issues such as:
- The need for shorter lecturers of 1 hour that are more engaging.
- Preference over live lectures instead of pre recorded and how lectures should be recorded.
- More engaging and differing teaching methods.
- Timetables of coursework deadlines so units can coordinate to spread out workload.
- Clearer clarification on Moodle on what is essential to the session and what is additional.
- Workload is still high
As always, I am extremely proud of all the Academic reps for the work they have done last semester and during exams, I can’t wait to see what great things they all achieve this semester!
If you have any questions for me or for senior management feel free to email me! We will be collecting any unanswered questions together and sending them off shortly!
Stay safe, stay fabulous!