UCL News


Professor Anthony Smith Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs) - action on teaching spaces and the timetable: phase 1 - data clean-up

22 January 2015

Many of you will be aware of the major disruption that late confirmation of the timetable had on staff and students at the start of this academic year.

Anthony Smith I also know many of you have growing concerns, not only about the quantity, but also the quality of the rooms available for teaching and learning.

We are currently planning urgent action on a number of fronts to ensure that we mitigate these problems in the short-term, and address them at a fundamental level in the longer term. We need to ensure that our teaching rooms are inviting and conducive to learning and to make more effective use of our teaching estate, with a timetable that meets the needs of our staff and students.

I am chairing a Learning Spaces Project Board to oversee work to address the central issues, including:

  • A review of our timetabling policies and processes, to ensure that we are using our facilities efficiently, and putting the needs of staff and students first;
  • The introduction of new planning processes for effective management of our teaching estate, so that our can estate be developed in line with changes in how we teach, including growth in student numbers and changes in pedagogy;
  • A review of the standards we set for the quality of teaching spaces, including how they are equipped, to ensure that all refurbishment decisions reflect the requirements of teachers and students.

Academic Review / Timetable information

Our first priority is make sure we can produce a timetable for the 2015-16 session that accommodates students and staff in appropriate rooms, and which we can publish before the teaching term begins. This requires us radically to improve the quality of data that we hold about modules that are taking place next year, including how they will be taught, and the numbers of students we anticipate will take them.

We will therefore be running this year's annual academic review process in tandem with the request for information about the 2015-16 timetable. Colleagues from Student and Registry Services and Estates will be in touch in the next week with more information about the extent of the data clean-up and collection process, and a programme of guidance and support will be put in place to ensure that we work with you on this request. We have also extended the deadline for confirmation of modules, diets and timetable data to 8 May 2015. Our hope is that a single deadline for confirmation of all information about your teaching plans will ultimately simplify the process for all concerned, in particular by reducing duplicate requests for information.

Thank you in advance for your help - I appreciate that this combined task will be a significant undertaking for staff involved with teaching administration and the timetable, but it is a vital step towards making the process work. Significant improvements in our management of the teaching estate are a high priority for my office and colleagues in Estates and Student and Registry Services, and I will ensure that you are kept updated with the work of the Project Board through The Week@UCL throughout the year.

Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs)