Student Voice

IMPROVING TIMETABLING

The Students' Union has been made aware of the timetabling issues that students are facing this year. In particular Doug Gregg, the Environment & Technology School Rep (Geography & Geology) has been campaigning hard on this in his school. He's researched the issue, met with relevant staff and written a report.

View Report

We asked the University for an explanation and met with the University timetabling project manager Sara Rumble. Sara explained that this is something the University has been working to improve for the past few years. Since starting the project to improve timetabling Sara and her team have been able to implement digital timetables across all campuses and ensure students have access to them before the start of term.

We raised some of the concerns that you had raised with us:

  • Students' Union said

    "Timetables are available before the start of term but they are quite often incorrect and there's still lots of room changes happening in the 4th week of teaching."

    Students, staff and community members in Hastings and across the university have challenged the decision to close the Hastings campus since the moment it was taken. Under pressure and legal action, University Management are setting aside the decision and revisiting what little discussion has been had on the future of the Hastings campus. The direct action and consistent lobbying of students from the campus- including demonstrations, and a sit-in- has undoubtedly added to public awareness of the issue too, and placed pressure on Senior Management.

    This gives us a narrow opportunity to restate the case for the campus we’ve been making, against what seems to have been an executively taken and implemented mission to withdraw higher education from the town.

    It’s a welcome step, that the University Management Board (UMB) and Board of Governors’ decision to close the Hastings Campus has been set aside; and that what little discussion and consultation has been had on the matter is to be revisited. However, the research and consultation necessary for a rigorous, informed and democratic process remain absent.

    Since the only option to be considered is still the one already formulated- it is evident that these efforts are an empty bureaucratic gesture.

    These, in brief, are the updates you need to know (taken from a joint statement by University & College Union and Unison, the staff Trade Unions):

    Summary:

    - the decision to terminate the University's operation in Hastings has been set aside;

    - the flawed nature of the process followed means that the Vice Chancellor does not have the authority to proceed with the closure plan;

    - a new process to consider the University's operation in Hastings will be put in place;

    - the process will include consultation with the Academic Board and other stakeholders;

    - the only proposal that will be offered for consideration, however, will be the closure of the University's operation, and the termination of higher education provision at Hastings, and its substitution with a 'University Centre' - a proposal identical to the original decision of the Board of Governors;

    - the only evidence to be offered in support of this proposal will be the flawed BDO Report (now belatedly made public), and highly contentious figures about the cost of delivery;

    - the process is to commence this Thursday with a consideration of the proposal by the members of the Academic Board.

    Last week, at the Academic Board made up of staff union representatives, your Students’ Union President Hayley Wood and Vice President Academic Experience Bethany Wren, the future of the Hastings campus was discussed. The Academic Board was not consulted or involved in the decision previously, with Hastings being breached as only a ‘verbal update’.

    There was meant to be a presentation from Deputy Vice Chancellor, Chris Pole, on the ‘University Centre’- which so far has consisted of proposals to move 3 of the 30+ courses existing at Hastings to Sussex Coast College Hastings, all foundation courses, and the closure or movement of the rest to other campuses. However, he was absent and little information about this plan was given.

    We will continue to raise the many grievances we have with these processes, and the farcical ‘University Centre’ alongside our staff union colleagues- and hope that staff involved in the discussions going forward will seize the opportunity to defend higher education, widening participation and access to opportunity.

    We would welcome working with the Vice Chancellor and University Board of Governors to find a satisfactory solution for the preservation of Higher Education in Hastings- if a new climate of openness and collaboration were to be made possible.

    However, until that point we will continue to fight against any moves to close the Hastings campus without appropriate consultation.

    The efforts of students, staff and community members in Hastings and across the university have forced the University Management Board (UMB) to recognise the illegitimacy of their conduct on the matter of closing the Hastings Campus. The dismantling of Higher Education in Hastings must be called to a halt, and the possibilities for the Hastings Campus future expanded radically, for this new turn of consideration to be taken seriously.

    By Molly Maher, Vice President Welfare & Campaigns on behalf of Brighton Students' Union.

  • University responded

    "The University uses a software system (CMIS) that generates timetables based on academic teaching availability, room capacity, suitability of rooms to meet specific needs, and course needs.  As the timetabling team continues working with all schools more accurate data will be entered into the system resulting in improved timetables. Draft timetables are issued to academics for checking before being released to students but when additional number of students are recruited through clearing or there are staff changes this will result in unavoidable changes to timetables. "

    Today, Monday 14th March, Brighton Students’ Union (BSU) held an open meeting to discuss the strategy in moving forward in our campaign to stop the closure of the Hastings campus at University of Brighton.

    This meeting aimed to create a focused and structured campaign, and was well attended by students, staff and members of the local community.

    From this meeting we have appointed a campaign manager, produced points of direct action and identified the ongoing support we must put in place to keep the momentum of the campaign present and at the forefront of people’s minds. 

    We will continue to push for clarity on the matter and stand by our statement made on 8th March which condemned the vagueness of the information made available by Vice Chancellor Debra Humphris, Board of Governors (BoG) and senior university management.

    A rally will be held in Hastings town centre this Thursday, 17th March, to help raise awareness of our campaign. We welcome anybody who wishes to support this. The rally will be meeting at 1pm outside Costa Coffee in Hastings town centre.

    As a union we continue to have the welfare of our students as our priority, but understand that we must keep communication open with all those who will be effected by this decision, and will endeavour to keep all staff and the local community informed about any progress we make or actions we plan to take. 

    Update 17th March 2016

    Whilst the Students' Union stand in full support of students and staff in Hastings and the Hands off hastings campaign, we will not under any circumstances condone any form of bully, harassment or personal attacks of Students' Union or University staff.

  • Students' union said

    "The whole year is displayed on the timetable, not the week that students are supposed to be attending."

    Update on #HandsoffHastings campaign 06/04/16

    The #HandsoffHastings campaign has been gaining even more momentum and support since the organising meeting in March (read previous post 14th March). Following the lively and well attended rally in Hastings on 17th March- which received staggering support from the local community- we are taking the message to Brighton with a demonstration on 13th April.

    As well as the rally there have been meetings between Trade Union reps, Students’ Union reps and Hastings Borough Councillor Peter Chowney- he has stated that he backs the #handsoffhastings campaign and will join us in fighting the closure. A meeting between UCU, Unison, Brighton Students’ Union and Hastings’ MP Amber Rudd is also set to take place on Friday 29th April. Amber shares our ‘shock and disappointment’ and is determined to work with us to keep the University in Hastings.

    There will be stalls across campus' on 11th and 12th April, calling for solidarity with Hastings- raising the profile of the campaign with our peers and colleagues at Grand & Pavilion Parade, Moulsecoomb, Falmer and Eastbourne. For more information keep an eye on our Facebook page.

    What are senior management saying now?

    Following a meeting on March 16th between Hastings students and the Union’s full-time officer team it was decided that Union officers would meet with university senior management the following day. It was also decided to periscope (live stream) the meeting to ensure transparency and accountability in matters relating to Hastings.

    When Hayley Wood (President) and Bethany Wren (VP Academic Experience) met with university senior management, to ask questions and state the demands that had been drafted at the meeting on the 16th, the university was unable to commit or confirm much at that time. The Union was looking for clarification that: students would be able to remain in the same the buildings, that part-time students would not be disproportionately affected, and that the University would make no cuts to Hastings campus funding. Unfortunately none of these concerns were alleviated and the officers will continue pursuing this line of questioning through official channels, whilst simultaneously pressuring the university senior management team through public protests in partnership with Hastings students.

    The University has since notified us that students can expect an official statement to be released next week (w/c 11th April).

    A UoB communication went out to all Hastings students on 14th March, you can read the statement from the university here (clicking on this link will download a word document). Further on from this Debra Humphris sent out a video via internal communications on the 22nd March addressing the Hastings Campus and stating that there would be meetings held over Easter from which she would provide further details of plans. You can watch the video here.

    Consideration also needs to be given to the procedures used to reach the decision about Hastings. The University has a robust committee structure which Academic Board sits atop of, the members of that committee (including the SU President and VP Academic Experience) are supposed to guide and inform the Vice Chancellor and the Board of Governors about the academic activities of the University.

    However, it seems they weren’t able to do that this time because they did not receive the Hastings report before the Board of Governors… and once the decision had been made above them, the “Hastings situation” was only put on the Academic Board agenda for information (as opposed to for discussion) and again they did not receive a paper before the meeting. This may be a genuine mistake by the University and the VC may have received poor guidance on the Brighton procedures (having only been here 6 weeks at the time) whatever the reason, it should be rectified immediately in order to ensure the integrity of Academic Board and its committees.

    Final words

    We remain committed to uniting with staff in resisting job losses, course closures and funding cuts to Hastings and across the university; the University of Brighton in Hastings must remain open, with more effective support for the future.  Join us in supporting #handsoffhastings demo on 13th April 1pm!  

    Updated 8th April- university communication to all Hastings students

    Message to all students in Hastings

    We are aware that recent announcements concerning the outcome of our review may have caused some disruption to your teaching at the end of the spring term.

    In order to ensure that no students in Hastings are disadvantaged the following generic procedures are being put in place under our existing regulations:

    -Examination boards will take this disruption into account when taking decisions on the level of performance and marking for all modules with teaching and/or assessments between 8 March 2016 and 30 June 2016

    - Where course leaders have already allowed generic extensions to submission deadlines these will remain in place (although it is not expected that these extensions will be applied for assessments being undertaken after 11 April 2016).

    These mitigations will be applied automatically and there is no need for any student to submit an individual application. If you have any specific concerns please contact your course leader.

    Students remain entitled to request individual extensions or submit mitigating circumstances for all other matters affecting their studies (eg ill health) and these will be processed in the normal way.

  • University responded

    "The University is aware of the issue with the timetable for the whole year being displayed and not being personalised and they’re looking into ways to improve this for 2017/18 timetables. An update to the system is currently being tested and may well be released earlier which will default to the current teaching week and not display the whole year."

    Initial statement from the full-time leadership team, Brighton Students' Union- Monday 7th March 2016

    The Students’ Union stands in opposition to threats of closure to the Hastings campus; the review commissioned by Debra Humphries is entirely financially motivated, with no concern for the impact on the livelihoods of staff, the occupation of students, and the prosperity of the local community. We extend solidarity to staff unions UCU and UNISON and are committed to uniting with staff in resisting job losses, course closures and funding cuts to Hastings.

    We recognise that there is a strong and vibrant community at the campus and that staff and students from all areas are appealing to have the importance of that recognised. We will work to alert students and staff at all university sites of the attack taking place and support students to show solidarity with Hastings - whilst prioritising the needs and efforts of Hastings students to fight any attempts to close their site of study.

    The President of the Students’ Union Hayley Wood, as a Governor on the Board, will be fighting any recommendation that Hastings be closed or disbanded at tomorrow’s meeting and an assembly of students, staff and union reps will be held at 3pm in the Lecture Theatre ground floor of Priory Square building. Students are invited to leaflet outside of the meeting taking place between 8:30- 11am in the Mithras Building, Moulsecoomb, Brighton with UCU and UNISON.

    The swiftness with which this review has been undertaken, and the lack of transparency in holding this review exposes the readiness of the new Vice Chancellor to make decisions of this scale and severity with total disregard for the people it affects. It reflects the disconnection between senior management and the communities which exist on each of our campuses and highlights the reality that all staff and students across campuses face the threat of redundancies and course closures. No amount of consultation or communication changes the fact that the closure of Hastings would be a financial decision, made in the interest of management not the people who have worked to make Hastings the exciting campus it is.

    The Vice Chancellor has compared the University to a business and to her role to that of a CEO; the marketization of education is what motivates the many strategic attempts to close courses not recruiting high numbers of students, or in this case an entire campus. The Students' Union will fight the threat to Hastings and work collaboratively with students and staff in the coming weeks and months, to organise and mobilise for the future of this campus.

    - BSU full-time Student Leadership Team, 07/03/2016

  • students' union said

    "Some rooms are really packed and not suitable for the amount of students."

    Hastings Campus Review statement 8th March

    The statement released today by the Vice Chancellor was intentionally vague and misleading. This is an extension of the shameful betrayal and disrespect shown by university management towards the Hastings campus community.

    University of Brighton are intending on closing the Hastings campus within 2 years. The security of the university’s future partnership with Sussex Coast College Hastings (SCCH) has been overstated, in order to disguise the ambition to exit Hastings entirely. This would be a loss for the whole of University of Brighton.

    We will fight the decision alongside trade unions, local government and councils, local businesses and the local community. We call on students and staff across campuses to show solidarity with Hastings and actively resist the decision.

    The decision made by the university is a betrayal of the Hastings community and everything that has been done over the last 13 years.

    The whole of the Students’ Union are committed to opposing the closure of Hastings. From today we will be communicating and working with all allies to ensure that we fight this decision. We will be releasing a further statement on our plans. 

    You can also read our initial statement (before the decision) from Monday 7th March. 

    Hayley Wood, Molly Maher, Bethany Wren, Nathan Foley and Amber Defroand Brighton Students' Union full-time Student Leadership Team

  • University responded

    "The rooms being packed might be due to students being able to see the whole course, and therefore every group session is visible and students are picking and choosing which sessions they attend. Or possibly due to increased student numbers where no larger alternative room is available."

    12:30pm Wednesday 27th January 

    We are aware of the situation that has arisen surrounding Hastings Campus Review. Hayley Wood, Brighton SU President, has been in contact with the Vice Chancellor Debra Humphris this morning about the Hastings Campus Review. The Students’ Union represents students' best interests. We are in the process of talking to your student elected officers based in Hastings (Hastings Campus Action Team). We will keep you updated with any more information as and when we receive it. If you have any questions contact Hayley Wood at h.wood2@brighton.ac.uk. 

    19:30pm Wednesday 27th January

    Video from Debra Humphris released from University of Brighton. You can watch it here or by clicking the image below. There is a meeting with our Hastings Campus Action Team, Debra & Hayley on Friday 29th Jan Room 204, Priory Square from 10.45-11.30am for all students in Hastings. If you would like to attend, please turn up on a first-come-first-served basis.

The University has recently employed a new registrar, Stephen Dudderidge and it will be members of his team that have responsibility for timetabling so the Students' Union will continue meeting with staff from the University over the next year to push for improvements to your timetables. We'll keep you updated as things develop.