Alex Hovden


09 January 2017 14:02

Do you want a break between Semester 1 & 2??

When I ran for President, I made a manifesto commitment to lobby the University to establish a longer break between the two semesters in the academic calendar. 

 This time last year, I was in your position. I was revising frantically for exams that were looming in January, along with writing a dissertation on the Physics of Traffic (sounds fascinating, right?)…

Christmas vacation hadn’t been that much of a vacation because I’d been revising for the vast majority of it. I think it’s safe to say that I was pretty exhausted!

I was quite lucky, in that my exams finished on the Tuesday of the second week of exams. This gave me a 5 day natural break before the beginning of Semester 2 – the home straight of my degree.

However I had plenty of friends who didn’t have that luxury. One particular friend had assignments as well as his three exams which were on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that last week of exams. Then, on the Monday, he was back into lectures first thing at 9am. It was safe to say that he had become quite stressed out, to the extent that it made him unwell.

This is not good. It’s not good for student welfare, it’s not good for academic performance, and it’s not good for the overall student experience.

This is where the idea of establishing a proper break came from. Now I’d like to think that I can approach the Vice-Chancellor directly on this, ask for it to happen, and he will make it so. I know that I can do this with other, smaller things, however this is a pretty big change to make. It involves looking at the entire academic year to see where it can be tweaked and adjusted, and then communicating that to everyone in the University. This is quite a big task.

Before I take this forward to the University, I need to make absolutely sure that a) students want it to happen, and b) there is solid evidence to support the need for it from a student welfare perspective.

This is where I need YOUR help… For the next four weeks I’m running a survey to find out how the January assessment period works for you. How many exams or assignments do you have? How much time do you have between each of these? How long do you have to relax afterwards? Perhaps most importantly, do you actually want a proper break?

When this is complete, I’ll be looking to compile a report of the results. I’ll publish this online, as well as presenting it to the Vice Chancellor and Vice President Education at the University.

I must stress at this stage that if the results indicate that a change is wanted by students, and the data backs that up too, this change is unlikely to come into effect immediately. How quickly it could be implemented we would have to wait and see, but at the very least I would be looking for a written commitment from the University that they will implement it as soon as feasibly possible. 

The survey will remain open until Friday 3rd February at 4pm. It shouldn’t take any more than 5 minutes to complete. Please encourage your friends, course mates, house mates, flat mates to fill this in. A wide range of different perspectives on this issue would be excellent!

You can fill out the survey by following this link

I hope this assessment season goes well for everyone.

All the best

Alex Hovden – Union President

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4 Comments on "Do you want a break between Semester 1 & 2??"

  1. alexhovden
    09/01/2017 at 2:29 pm Permalink

    This year I am lucky and only have one exam, with my dissertation is ongoing and on track. My exam is on the first tuesday of the exam period so I get a wonderful 2 week break! I’m really excited for this and feel it will be very good for me. This is the first time since being at university that I have had such a break, and I feel that staff are often insensitive to the fact that although we have a long summer break (filled with internships!) our Christmas and Easter ‘breaks’ are filled with studying for exams and assignments. I think even a week break between semester 1 and 2 would be extremely beneficial for students.

  2. alexhovden
    Anna Thomas
    12/01/2017 at 12:22 am Permalink

    This year I don’t get a break at all – much like last year. Both years I’ve had exams on the last Friday of the exam’s period and this year especially I won’t receive a breather as my exams are on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the last exam week. This only gives me the weekend to take a breather before the stress of semester 2 starts which is ridiculous! I would love this break added in 🙂 Thank you.

  3. alexhovden
    15/01/2017 at 12:47 pm Permalink

    Despite being set 5000 words to write in total over the christmas holiday, the lecturers for half of my modules refused to answer emails before the 1st of January, so not only were we expected to work over our holiday, we were expected to do so with no guidance as our lecturers were not prepared to sacrifice any of their holiday to help us. I really resent the fact that tutors seem to value their own break but not make the connection that it is also meant to be a break for us as well.

  4. alexhovden
    26/01/2017 at 3:33 pm Permalink

    My last exam is tomorrow- the very last day of the exam period! This gives me only the weekend to “de-stress”, socialise, take time for myself, read my module outlines for semester 2 and organise any text books and stationary (etc) that I might need.

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