The University of Northampton has unveiled plans to dispense with the traditional three-month student summer holiday and move towards a “52-week, 24 hour” campus arrangement.
In a proposal sent out to all staff, Jane Bunce, director of student and academic services, has said the university is considering a radical change in the academic year ahead of the institution’s move to the new town centre Waterside campus in 2018.
Mrs Bunce said the new academic year would be split into four quarters, rather then the current three, and will involve greater use of the July to September period when students normally have no teaching or studying time.
Rather than two teaching terms of 12 weeks, broken up with two four-week holidays, followed by an examination period in May/June, the university will have 10 weeks of teaching, split by two-week holidays, followed by a period of formal examination and then another three-month period that can be used for “optional activities” or further teaching and study.
Easter will be a long weekend instead of automatically at the centre of the two week break.
The proposal paper states: “There should be no ‘down time’ within the year and the university should be designated as open for all days except those specifically noted as bank holidays.
Mrs Bunce said the changes to the academic year would offer greater value for money and provide opportunities for students to carry out extra-curricular activities.
Students will also be able to retake their exams in the summer period rather than having to wait until the next academic year.
For staff, the changes would mean annual leave would be managed more tightly and research activity may be allocated in a concentrated block within a quarter of the year.
The university has said staff contracts will be affected by the plans and this will require discussions with the unions.
As a result of students resitting their exams in the same academic year, the university could lose some module income but may make up for this loss through more students studying throughout the year and being in halls of residence for a longer proportion of the year
The plans are likely to be finalised and approved by the University of Northampton’s Senate Council by July this year and introduced from 2015
Deborah Mattock, Director of HR and Marketing at the University of Northampton, said: “We are currently reviewing the academic year as part of our ongoing commitment to continuous quality improvement.
“We want to ensure that we continue to offer our students an excellent university experience. Some alternatives to the current academic year structure have been put forward for consideration through our internal institutional committee structures. We are involving staff and students in our decision making to ensure we find the best way forward.”