How do you see the academic calendar working?

QUESTION:

I have been looking at this in terms of our mod specs and hours and I don’t see how it lines up with the new calendar.

Take a FT UG studying 60 CATS in semester 1 this is 600 hours of learning time.
13 weeks (12 weeks teaching plus 1 reading week) 37.5 x 13 = 487.5 hours (112.5 hours short)

Semester 2 is the a similar calculation (12 weeks teaching plus revision week )
and even if you include the full two weeks of assessment (plus 75 hours and that assumes every student would have an assessment on the very last day) that would still leave us short overall for the whole academic year of 150 hours.

The only way to get to that 150 hours would be either
a. To say that two of the weeks in the Xmas holidays and the two weeks at Easter are not actually holidays at all but full time study – is this what we are saying because I find it very unconvincing? And given the diversity in our student body which includes mature students with families I think that will be a hard message to sell.

b. We expect the students to be working a lot above 37.5 hours i.e. in the evenings every night. Again given the diversity with mature students and families this would be an issue, plus the number of students with part time jobs.

How do you envisage this working?

ANSWER:

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) uses the term ‘notional learning time’ to denote
all time expected to be spent by a student in pursuit of a higher education qualification.
This includes independent study and reading, preparation for contact hours, coursework,
revision and summative assessment. This term is used because the actual time that learners need to achieve designated learning outcomes varies considerably. Notional study time of ten hours per credit is the agreed tariff that higher education providers use in designing their programmes and learning outcomes for higher education qualifications,
with 360 credits making up an honours degree.

Therefore there are 1200 hours (120 x 10 hours) of notional teaching time per level on our undergraduate awards.

Reasonably we would expect a student to have 40 hours notional learning time per week
(this is the assumed average in the HEA/HEPI Student Academic Experience survey 2014).

In the new academic calendar there are 13 weeks (12 reading weeks + 1 reading/revision week) in each semester.

This means that with 40 hours notional learning hours per week, 40 x 13 x 2 = 1040 hours would leave students short of 160 notional learning hours per year.

This could be accounted for by notional learning time during assessment periods at weekends and holidays (which isn’t a unusual expectation in the sector). This is evidence in the HEA Survey (referenced above).

In this way 1200 hours can be accounted for.