Durham University cancels plans to introduce 8am lectures after outrage from students

Durham University has cancelled its plans to introduce 8am lectures following a backlash from students and staff.

Students would have been forced from their beds earlier in the morning from next term under a new timetable – introduced by the university to cope with rising student numbers.

But the university has withdrawn its plans to lengthen the teaching day for law and business studies undergraduates after resistance from students, student representatives and their tutors.

Megan Croll, who was president of Durham Students’ Union (SU), had criticised a lack of consultation and said students were “suffering” because of “over-ambitious” expansion plans.  

Durham Students with Disabilities Association also expressed “great concern” about the proposals, saying it had “serious and potentially highly detrimental implications” for disabled students.

The Russell Group university has been expanding and plans to continue increasing student numbers. From September next year, a new teaching and learning centre will provide 400 new study spaces, and an additional lecture space to help relieve pressure on the timetable.

Professor Alan Houston, pro-vice-chancellor (education) at Durham University, said: “Durham’s preliminary timetable for 2018-19 included four modules in Business and Law whose lectures were to be taught at 8am.

“Both students and staff expressed concern at this possibility. We have listened and responded. Working closely with students and departments, the Student Registry explored all alternatives.”

He added: “Thanks to their hard work, I am pleased to report that there will be no 8am lectures scheduled next academic year.”

Saul Cahill, undergraduate academic officer of the SU, said it was encouraging that the university had responded to the pressure brought by “student outcry” and had reversed their decision.

He told the student newspaper Palatinate: “The university have known about this timetabling issue since December yet the first time students heard about it was upon receiving their preliminary timetables.

“What’s more, many universities around the UK are reporting similar timetabling issues as they also find their plans for expansion do not match current teaching provisions.

“If we are to avoid a repeat of this next year, students must be consulted at the earliest possible time to avoid the unnecessary worry that has been placed on students over this summer as well as to ensure that all lectures are held at times that facilitate a good learning experience.”

Earlier this month, a survey by the Times Higher Education magazine revealed that more British universities are pushing their teaching hours into the evening to cope with rising student numbers.

Lectures run until 8pm at Brunel University London and Oxford Brookes University, it found.


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