Topsy-turvy terms

November 19, 2004

I read your article on universities scrapping the semester system with interest ("Return to terms of endearment", November 12).

I am a final-year student at Plymouth University. Ivan Sidgreaves, the pro vice-chancellor of Plymouth, said there had been "no negative feedback" about the change, yet I have heard nothing but negative feedback.

We have not really got rid of the semester system. The only thing that has changed is the name - and the fact that students have less study time in the year and more holidays.

At the beginning of the year, students still work on modules that are different from those at the end of it. But now these modules are called "term1" and "term2" modules (rather than semester 1 and 2).

After Christmas, there is no revision week, the two weeks of exams are no more, and there is no reading week. Instead, term2 starts immediately.

There are no mid-year exams. The Easter holiday still sits in the middle of a semester (sorry, term), with teaching weeks afterwards, and then exams, which have been made more stressful because the whole year depends on them.

Philip Tasker, vice-chancellor of De Montfort University, said one advantage of moving to terms was that students were no longer able to pick a mish-mash of modules.

But Plymouth still lets students to pick what they want. But now they try to pick more modules in either the first or second term, depending on whether they feel happier doing coursework or exams.

I am all for scrapping semesters and bringing back three terms. But it needs to be done the right way. At Plymouth, it's been a disaster.

Name withheld

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