Exclusive: Durham University cancels plans to introduce 8am lectures

By Cameron McIntosh

Plans to introduce 8am lectures at Durham University have been cancelled, amid a backlash from students.

The University has today confirmed that controversial proposals to lengthen the teaching timetable with 8am lectures have been withdrawn, following a consultation with students and departments.

In June, Palatinate exclusively revealed that students in the Law and Business schools would have 8am lectures scheduled beginning Michaelmas 2018, to deal with oversubscribed course numbers. The proposals were set to affect four modules in these departments.

“We have listened and responded…I am pleased to report that there will be no 8am lectures scheduled next academic year.”

The announcement was widely reported by national media organisations including The Times and BBC, and was met with strong opposition from staff, students and student representatives alike.

In response, the then President of Durham Students’ Union, Megan Croll, criticised the lack of student consultation on the original proposals and said “students are suffering because of over ambitious aims to expand the university.”

Durham Students with Disabilities Association (SwDA), were also among those who expressed “great concern” about the policy, on the grounds that it would exacerbate difficulties facing Durham students with disabilities.

In an email seen by Palatinate, Professor Thom Brooks, Dean of Durham University Law School, said in an email addressed to all students in the Law department: “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.

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

“The new Teaching and Learning Centre is scheduled to open in September 2019.  In addition to 400 new study spaces, it will provide additional lecture space and help relieve pressure on the timetable.”

“It’s encouraging that the University have responded to the pressure…but the underlying cause of a lack of student consultation must be addressed.”

This announcement comes a year into the execution of Durham University’s 2017-2027 strategy, involving the relocation of students from Queen’s Campus Stockton to Durham City.

The University has pledged to increase the student population to 21,500 by 2027.

Durham Students’ Union Undergraduate Academic Officer, Saul Cahill, welcomed the news. He told Palatinate: “It’s encouraging that the University have responded to the pressure brought by student outcry and Palatinate by reversing their decision to hold 8am lectures, but the underlying cause of a lack of student consultation must be addressed.

“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.”

Photograph: Ieuan Jenkins via Flickr

@Cameron_McInt0sh

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