JMU third semester hits hitch

September 8, 1995

Plans for piloting the summer semester at Liverpool John Moores could still be rejected in whole or in part by the university's academic board, writes David Charter.

The board was not consulted in detail on the university's bid for trimester funding which won approval from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The board's last meeting on July 12 was simply informed that the Pounds 3.4 million bid had been made. HEFCE decided to award the university Pounds 2.2 million which is likely to add to concerns about the quality of the scheme at the next academic board meeting on September 25.

"Academic board had not discussed the bid and did not know whether it was good, bad or indifferent academically," said one board member. "One of the objections raised on academic grounds was that there was not enough time in the summer semester to deliver a full and coherent course."

The university's bid also says no one will be forced to deliver summer teaching.

The local Natfhe branch has yet to decide on its response to the third semester plan.

Natfhe's higher education spokeswoman Amanda Hart said: "We are opposed to the third semester on educational grounds and staffing grounds. Staff do not have a suitable opportunity to have a break or do research and cannot work 12 months a year without a break. Neither can students - I am not convinced they get a good educational experience from that."

John Moores wanted about 1,000 students to attend the semester in a range of ways. Phased entry was planned for some students as well as flexible access to modules and accelerated learning.

The university will still be able to continue with its plans without the endorsement of academic board, since the final decision rests with its board of governors.

The university's scheme is the most expensive of the three pilot projects commissioned by HEFCE for summer teaching. A spokesman for HEFCE refused to comment on the university's project. "It is still under discussion. We have not finalised our agreement with the university," he said.

A university spokesman said the money in the bid would fund the university's undertaking that no one will be asked to do more teaching within their contract. The semester would be staffed by reallocating teaching between semesters, employing more staff and the extension of part-time teaching contracts.

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