Class tests at risk due to lack of room space

Fraser McGowan
Deputy News Editor

A “critical situation” has arisen in relation to the accommodation of class tests, according to a working group established by the Learning and Teaching Committee of the University Senate.

The Class Test Accommodation Working Group reported that the Bute and Hunter Halls could “no longer be considered prime space for class tests” because “notice was required for switching the layout of the Halls and bringing furniture for class tests from a storage facility in Govan.” This has resulted in the loss of around 1100 seats previously used to facilitate class tests.

Course organisers have reported a number of problems with the alternative accommodation arrangements made by the Central Timetabling Team (CTT), including the inconvenience caused by dividing large classes between different venues, the inadequacy of lecture theatres for the purpose of class tests and the need to limit the amount of time allowed for class tests because of the restrictive 50-minute time slots allocated by the CTT.

The working group, chaired by Vice Principal Frank Coton, also noted that there had been a number of complaints from students, who “felt that exam conditions had been compromised” in a number of instances.

The CTT assured the working group that there would be “capacity to meet class test accommodation requirements for the current academic session,” but conceded that the circumstances would “not always” be ideal.

The CTT later confirmed that for the current academic session “all but one class test (in the School of Medicine) had been allocated accommodation” but also confirmed that it had recently extended its service to “help source external venues where there was no suitable alternative on campus.”

The School of Law told the working group that it had “reduced its Level 1 and Level 2 tests, […] moved the date of the exams and tried to factor formative exams into feedback tutorials.” For third and fourth year law students, the School allowed for class tests within existing teaching space.  The School of Life Sciences has also adopted alternative methods of assessment, using online assessment for some courses.

The working group discussed the possibility of designating week six for all first and second year class tests across the University in order to make it easier for the CTT to accommodate them. This solution would also allow for the CTT to resume using the Bute and Hunter Halls to accommodate class tests because the halls could be “set up in exam style for the whole of week six.”

However, all four colleges of the University objected to this proposal. The School of Modern Languages and Cultures felt that “restricting exams to week six would be problematic for them” and the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences said that it “would have to think through the practicalities of implementation […] because in some years students can take up to six 10-credit courses and would therefore be required to sit six exams in one week.”

In response to various objections the working group concluded that “there was no compelling case for making these changes’ and that ‘that real solutions to the accommodation crisis on campus could only be achieved in the medium to longer term, as part of the campus redevelopment plan.”