Tag Archives: extended teaching day

subtext 184 – ‘life’s an illusion love is a dream’

Every so often during term time.

Letters, contributions, & comments: subtext-editors@lancaster.ac.uk

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In this issue: editorial, unconditional offers, stansted 15, lusu referendum, shop news, lost and found, restaurant review, widden, letters.



At the beginning of term, subtext reported on the apparent fait accompli around evening teaching:


Definitely here to stay, we thought, and management won’t budge. Looks like we weren’t quite right. While some evening classes took place throughout the term, and this looks set to continue until at least 2020, there has been quite a bit of furious backpedalling by senior management and Timetabling. This means that the number of evening classes has already been reduced by some shuffling (of deck-chairs, more cynical readers may think), and management are even apparently exploring other options, including lecture live-streaming where departments are keen. From being a sure thing that only need to be evaluated for impact, evening teaching at Lancaster has now apparently shifted to being an emergency measure to cope with a temporary space problem. Trebles all round?

There are, however, still some unanswered questions around how the University will cope with the projected year-on-year increase in student numbers, when newly built lecture theatres may only solve the current teaching space problem. Perhaps some more radical solutions need to be considered, including – shock horror – only accepting as many students as we have room to teach?


It’s happened. From this week, the teaching day lasts from 9am to 7pm.

And it’s likely to stay that way. Despite the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s acceptance that the sudden announcement of an extension from 6pm to 7pm (via a staff intranet post in the last week of July) was ‘less than ideal’, and involvement of staff and students’ unions in a task group to ‘mitigate adverse impact’ and develop ‘recommendations for 19/20 and beyond’, nobody is seriously expecting evening lectures to be ceasing any year soon. The students’ union has loudly protested about the loss of time for extra-curricular activities and family life – although we’re still not sure what the dressing up as cows was all about – to no avail.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this has been caused by an increase in our overall student numbers, but in fact, the number of new registrations in 2018 is nigh on identical to the number of new registrations in 2017. What we have are larger numbers of large courses, trying to fit into the same number of large teaching spaces – i.e. not many.

Here are the figures. If you have a class of 200 or more that wants teaching, there are five places on campus you can put them: Biology Lecture Theatre, Bowland Lecture Theatre, Faraday Lecture Theatre, George Fox Lecture Theatre 1 and, for those seeking the ‘school assembly experience’, the Great Hall. If we want to Keep Wednesday Afternoons Free – and we do – that gives roughly 200 slots available in large theatres over the course of the week. Doesn’t sound too bad … but now assume your class size has gone up to 300. You’ve only got George Fox 1 and the Great Hall to play with, and suddenly the timetable looks likely to fall over.

What’s the solution? Slowly and surely, double teaching has become the norm. Well, after all, you spent so long preparing for that lecture, that it seems a bit of a shame that you only have to give it once, eh? But then … double teaching a class of 300 might mean that you aren’t crowding out the big theatres any more, but now you’re causing logistical hell for the medium sized rooms. Something’s got to give.

Across campus, sage minds have pondered this problem and shrugged their shoulders. What else can you do?

Lectures at 8am, perhaps? They’re the norm in many parts of Europe, after all. A few months ago, Durham made the … courageous decision to bring these in for 2018/19. It didn’t end well: https://www.palatinate.org.uk/exclusive-durham-university-cancels-plans-to-introduce-8am-lectures/

Live-streamed lectures? This is popular with many students – possibly the same students who aren’t great fans of 8am lectures – but has been ruled out by our senior management. ‘I didn’t pay 9 grand in fees to watch lectures in my bedroom’ and so forth.

Our disgruntled moles in the Law School (should that be Law moaners?) have reported that they recently received an entreaty from their Head of Department that there should be no consumption of alcohol during lectures. Perhaps this is one of the coping strategies that students – or staff – have had to resort to when forced to take part in a lecture at a time more usually spent cocktail-making than note-taking.

So 6pm lectures it is, then. Fingers crossed we might get a big new lecture theatre some time soon. We wish the Deputy Vice-Chancellor well in his new position as Dundee’s Vice-Chancellor.


It all started so well for the Students’ Union. In subtext 169 we reported on their campaign against an unnecessary rent increase of up to £249. To make their displeasure known, LUSU set up a stall and put £249 worth of pasta on display. A little gimmicky, we thought, but enough to get the usual ‘our costs are going up and we have the best halls ever anyway’ line trotted out by the university. And so, we sat back, and then… nothing. There was no further campaigning action, no publicity releases about negotiations, and no attempt to actually mobilise students into a General Meeting, or a protest, or anything.

And then the SU was complicit in the abolition of University Court (detailed above under UNIVERSITY COURT), the decision making body with the largest student delegation, the only one to which any student representative could propose motions and policy, and at which students had fought and won against the university.

But the University Court was due to be abolished anyway, and perhaps it wasn’t the best hill for the SU to die on if it wanted to pick more important fights. As the industrial action took hold of the entire higher education sector, and the student body increasingly swayed towards the side of the staff, subtext eagerly awaited the SU’s statement of intent, and its plan of action, before issue 173 went to print. The plan, it transpired, was to ’empower [student] opinion with impartial information.’ Yes. After making clear that it wasn’t best pleased that the action was going ahead, the SU decided that it wasn’t even going to OPPOSE it. Instead, it put out some tepid ‘on the one hand this and on the other hand that’ infographics. Thankfully, hundreds of students spontaneously organised, many of whom were heard shrieking with derision at any mention of the SU, joined by striking UCU members.

Even JCR officers weren’t safe. A series of posters denouncing the Vice-Chancellor’s salary and lack of funding for the counselling service quickly disappeared from campus, and LUSU’s higher-ups were reported to have advised the JCR officers responsible to take a different tack, apparently pledging to help ‘broaden’ the campaign and attract wider attention. As we predicted in subtext 177, such a campaign never came to fruition – LUSU simply quashed the activism.

LUSU might have made better decisions, be it on Grad Ball (which this year was cancelled for the first time since the 1970s), opposing strike action, or allowing fascism on campus to be funded, if it were more accountable to students, and hadn’t gutted almost all of its accountability structures in 2015 (as we recalled in issue 174). Could LUSU’s ‘scrutiny panel’ have curbed this behaviour? No. In subtext 174, we noted that the ‘scrutiny panel’ hadn’t met at any point during the nine months that the sitting sabbatical team had held office, and was denounced by a former appointee for producing toothless reports that ‘nobody reads.’ Perhaps a General Meeting of the student body could have passed policy? Not a chance – LUSU’s General Meeting failed to reach quoracy, because they failed to seize the enthusiasm around the rent increase in the first term, or the industrial action in the second term to drive attendance. In lieu of a quorate General Meeting, LUSU instead held an ‘online general meeting’, which is completely unconstitutional and has zero powers to authorise LUSU to do anything.

There must have been SOMETHING keeping LUSU’s political wing busy, because one now-former officer appeared on Bailrigg FM back in May boasting to a Labour Party representative that by-election turnout was healthy because LUSU had bothered to do a bit of promotional work, even though it ‘isn’t their job’ (it is).

subtext keeps a close eye on all of the university’s most influential wings, and the SU is one of them. You can read all of our reporting on the SU’s activities throughout 2017-18, which is far more detailed than our VERY brief recap, below.


http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/02/01/court-the-final/ |
















That was then. This is now. subtext is pleased to report that the new team of LUSU full-time officers seem to have got off to a blistering start, by calling a student demonstration against the proposed introduction of 6pm to 7pm lectures, during this Saturday’s Undergraduate Open Day. The details:


Don’t miss your Week 1 subtext for our full report on the ‘extended teaching day’ proposals, including why you shouldn’t dramatically increase your undergraduate numbers without also dramatically increasing your lecture theatres, and why this problem isn’t going to go away any time soon.