Timetabling Policy

Purpose and Scope

The Policy

Purpose and Scope

This sets out the University’s policy, procedures, roles and responsibilities in respect of:

  • a. The compilation and scheduling of its teaching timetable
  • b. The ad-hoc booking of teaching space for non-academic activities
  • c. The teaching space facilities and support
  • d. Those groups and individuals who contribute to the compilation of the University’s teaching timetable and its implementation.

The policy covers timetabling for the University of South Wales campuses at Atrium, Caerleon, Glyntaff (including the Sports Park), Newport City and Treforest. It does not apply to the wider University of South Wales Group or partner institutions. It aims to support the timetabling process by:

  1. clarifying responsibilities and expectations of staff involved in the compilation and scheduling of the teaching timetable;
  2. optimising the effective management and use of the University’s teaching space;
  3. capturing and utilising timetabling information within a comprehensive database.

The Policy

A. Teaching Times
B. Teaching Space
C. Room Allocation
D. The Timetabling Process/Schedule
E. Timetable Changes
F. Ad-hoc bookings for non-teaching activity
G. Equality and Diversity
H. Maintenance of Teaching Space
I. Roles and Responsibilities in the context of the Timetabling Process

A. Teaching Times

  • A.1. The University operates core teaching during three terms, during the hours of 09:00 – 21:00, Monday to Friday. In the interest of student experience however, every effort is made to schedule teaching for full time students before 6pm; but this is not always possible and full time staff and students will be expected to be available to attend teaching during these times. Exceptions may apply for staff where formally approved1.
  • A.2. It is recognised that some course delivery will take place outside of these hours, e.g. week-end block delivery, but it is the policy that such teaching will also be recorded on the central timetable2.
  • A.3. For full-time undergraduate students Wednesday afternoon from 13:00 onwards will be kept free of teaching commitments to enable students to participate in Students Union activities. Requests for exemption from this policy must be made by email to the Timetabling Principal Officer in Student Administration Services. The following examples are where approval may be given
    • Multiple tutorials/lectures where the students have a choice to attend an alternative timeslot, however, students must be made aware of this choice.
    • If the students have requested or agreed to it. In this instance academic/faculty staff are requested to send a list of all affected students to Timetabling before the slot is relocated to Wed PM.
    • One-off Guest Lectures (when all students are available or the guest has limited availability).
    • Re-sit tests, if the students have agreed to the time slot.
    • Anything that is not compulsory for the students to attend.

All other requests will require the approval of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) in Directorate. The Timetabling Principal Officer reserves the right to refer any requests to the DVC for approval. Notification of any approvals will be sent to the President and relevant Vice-President of the Students Union.
Wednesday afternoons may be used for postgraduate, FE and part-time study. Some professional undergraduate courses have been pre-approved to teach on Wednesday PM3

  • A.4. All teaching activities should start at five minutes past the hour and end at five minutes to the hour to facilitate a smooth change over between activities.
  • A.5. The University will not, as a matter of policy, attempt to provide a scheduled lunch break but will attempt to ensure that the number of sequential activities is not excessive for students or staff.

1 For example formally approved flexible working arrangements, approved in line with the University’s Flexible Working Policy. (See also Staff Availability)

2 Weekend Opening

3Current exemptions as at 01/05/2014 include School of Care Sciences, and School of Education

B. Teaching Space

  • B.1. All space designated as general purpose teaching (GPT) space by the Space Management Group (SMG) will be managed through the Timetabling Process4.
  • B.2. All space designated as 'specialist’ or 'Faculty-designated’ space by SMG, e.g. laboratories, will remain the responsibility of the faculties but it is policy that all teaching activities that take place in these areas will be recorded in the central timetable in line with the annual timetabling schedule.
  • B.3. Computer laboratories, for a number of reasons, fall into several categories of accessibility, e.g. open access to all students, priority booking to certain faculties / disciplines etc. Such details will be recorded on the central timetable and it is policy that all teaching activities that take place in these areas will be recorded on the central timetable, in line with the annual timetabling schedule.
  • B.4. The University’s Space Management Group has designated some areas as having restricted access for teaching purposes. The timetabling team within Student Administration Services, and the estates department will maintain a list of these areas and the priorities assigned to them. These priorities will be applied when scheduling the University’s timetable.

4 for the timetabling process see Appendix 1

C. Room Allocation

  • C.1. Allocation of GPT space to activities is the responsibility of the timetabling team, informed by the data provided by Faculty staff.
  • C.2. Teaching activities will take precedence over non-teaching activities except for examinations falling in the designated university examination periods and activities related to the University’s congregations.
  • C.3. Requests for booking of GPT for other planned activities will be scheduled, but not until the teaching timetable is finalised. For example, Open/Applicant Days5, Enrolment and Induction.
  • C.4. Requests for ad-hoc bookings for non-teaching activities will not be scheduled until the teaching timetable is published (i.e. final draft).
  • C.5. Requests for the use of specific rooms should be accompanied by a justification on the grounds of suitability e.g. specific equipment only available in that room. All such requests will be assessed in the light of the overall demand and its likely impact on the overall timetable.
  • C.6. Should a disabled student or member of staff have specific requirements necessitating the use of particular rooms, these requirements should be communicated to the appropriate Timetabler and the Student Support Disability and Dyslexia Unit at the earliest opportunity.
  • C.7. In allocating rooms it will be policy to match the group size to room size as far as is practicable. As a consequence large groups will be given precedence over small groups in the use of the large teaching space.
  • C.8. Clashes will be managed by the Timetabling team in consultation with the relevant academic staff. Irresolvable problems will be referred to the Chair of the Timetabling Group.

5 University-wide Open and Applicant days will normally be scheduled at weekends, evenings or out of term time. Faculty specific events may be scheduled during the teaching week, but in line with C.3.

D. The Timetabling Process/Schedule

  • D.1. The timetabling process is reviewed annually by the Timetabling Group. A copy of the current process appears as Appendix 1.
  • D.2. The timetabling process attempts to ensure that there is transparency over the methodology; clarity on the deadlines; clarity on the responsibilities of those involved and delivers a final timetable within the agreed timescales.
  • D.3. The timetabling process incorporates a phased scheduling designed to support the university’s strategic aims and relevant policies. These phases are currently:
    • D.3.1. Phase 1: Summer Teaching
    • D.3.2. Phase 2: Part Time, PT2 (have limited availability) and Specialist Rooms. (Days and times are set by faculty)
    • D.3.3. Phase 3: Priority rooms; Large Activities, Multiple pathways, Cross Campus student groups; Level 0 and Level 1; Level 3 and all remaining unscheduled activities. (Days and times are not set, scheduling is undertaken on the basis of student groups)
    • D.3.4. Early draft timetable published (for staff)
    • D.3.5. Final draft timetable published (for students)
    • D.3.6. Final timetable published
  • D.4. These phases may change each year in accordance with the Timetabling Groups responsibilities and University priorities.
  • D.5. It is the responsibility of the Timetablers and academic staff to ensure that the various drafts are reviewed in a timely and thorough manner within the timescales agreed annually in the timetabling process.
  • D.6. Draft and final timetables will be published online in accordance with the timescales agreed annually in the timetabling process.
  • D.7. All teaching and ad-hoc bookings are recorded on Syllabus Plus/Enterprise software provided by Scientia.

E. Timetable Changes

  • E.1. During the development of the timetable and following publication of drafts and final timetables:
    • E.1.1. Changes resulting during the development of the timetable should be minimal as long as staff have engaged with the process and fulfilled their responsibilities as outlined below and provided the timetabling team with the required information.
    • E.1.2. Requests for changes to the teaching timetable after the final draft should be kept to an absolute minimum. Such changes should only be made exceptionally and be approved by the Dean or nominee. Valid reasons for change include, unexpected staff changes, unexpected levels of recruitment, the late withdrawal of a course or module, accommodation of the needs of disabled staff / students.
    • E.1.3. All requests should be submitted in writing (preferably via email, to Timetabling (tt@southwales.ac.uk).
    • E.1.4. Whilst the web / portal publication of the amended timetable will reflect agreed changes it remains a faculty responsibility to communicate the changes to the relevant students and staff.
    • E.1.5. Once the draft timetable has been published all changes to the teaching timetable will be recorded by the timetabling team. Monthly statistics will be produced and provided via the Timetabling Group.
    • E.1.6. Changes necessitated by building / remedial works should be communicated at the earliest to the Timetabling Team by the Estates Department and the Faculty. Similarly the timetabling team will ensure that Faculty staff are kept informed and it will be the responsibility of the faculty to communicate the changes to the relevant students and staff.
  • E.2. To ensure the timetable remains accurate and reflects positive changes in requirements during the Academic Year, staff are requested to report changes to their Timetablers. This will ensure rooms are released back into the pool for use through ad-hoc bookings or other timetabling requirements. Academic staff are therefore asked to take an individual responsibility to:
    • E.2.1. Adhere to the published version of the timetable. Staff should not use rooms they perceive to be free of teaching without first requesting use of the room from their Timetabler. Rooms may be empty for a number of reasons, and may well be timetabled for use in future weeks. Such occupation of rooms is the main contributor to room clashes and impacts on room utilisation.
    • E.2.2. Report to their Timetabler when:
      • E.2.2.1. They are unable to teach in their allocated room as someone else is using it and where possible find out who is occupying the room.
      • E.2.2.2. Teaching activities are cancelled or changed resulting in rooms being booked but no longer needed.
  • E.3. The estates department periodically conducts room audits to collect information relating to the utilisation of rooms. These reports are then made available to the Timetabling Team. Timetabling Group and SMG then considers a written response.
  • E.4. Faculties are also required to undertake periodic utilisation checks of specialist and faculty-designated rooms and encouraged to also periodically check the usage of GPT rooms booked by them.

F. Ad-hoc bookings for non-teaching activity

  • F.1. Ad-hoc bookings should not be used for acquiring rooms for one-off or re-arranged teaching events (which should be channeled through the Timetablers in the usual way). The timetabling team reserves the right to refer back any such bookings it believes to be teaching related.
  • F.2. Staff can make ad-hoc bookings online7 where full instructions are available.
  • F.3. Students wishing to book a room are required to complete a paper form.
    • F.3.1. If the booking is related to a Students Union activity they must complete the form in the presence of a Union Official who will check the validity of the request before authorising, this is completed by the reception supervisor at the Treforest Student’s Union, who then submit the request via the online booking service.
    • F.3.2. If the booking is not related to a Students Union activity the student should request a form available from Student Administration Services.
    • F.3.3. Atrium students wishing to use specialist space are booked via the room technicians who ensure the students are appropriately trained on the specialist equipment. The technicians make the booking via the online booking service. To use the TV studios students must fill in a booking form which can be collected from reception, LRC or staff members.

All other campus students requiring the use of specialist facilities should refer to local arrangements within their faculties e.g. lecturers or room technicians as use of this space needs to be in accordance with Health and Safety regulations.
  • F.3.4. Atrium students wishing to use GPT space should book via the campus advice centres who then submit the request via the online booking service.
  • F.3.5. Students collect the room key (for specialist space or GPTs out of main term time) from reception, who confirms the booking is in place via the online timetable. Once confirmed the key is given in exchange for the student ID card which is kept until the key is returned.
  • F.3.6. Some Faculties allow students to use vacant rooms instantly by confirming the request and the availability of the room with the Reception Desk. Students should enquire at the Faculty Reception/Enquiry desk about this service. However, students are advised to view the online room timetable for available GPT rooms which they can use without booking as long as they vacate the room in time for the next scheduled slot.
  • F.3.7. Rooms for group work are also available through Library Services and can be booked at the LRC Information and Service Desk.
  • F.4. Any member of the public wishing to book university accommodation should contact the Conference Centre on 01443 482002 or by email at events@southwales.ac.uk.
  • F.5. The teaching timetable will not be rescheduled in order to accommodate an ad-hoc booking, however, ad hoc bookings may be reallocated alternative rooms to accommodate changes to the teaching timetable.

7 Online Room Booking

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G. Equality and Diversity

  • G.1. In line with the university’s equal opportunities policy the university will make every effort to accommodate the requirements of disabled staff, students and visitors.
  • G.2. Individuals requiring such support should make their requirements known via the Timetabling Team and the Student Support Disability and Dyslexia Unit in the first instance, providing relevant details of the support required.

H. Maintenance of Teaching Space

  • H.1. The maintenance of all GPT space and its furniture is the responsibility of the Estates department for the physical fabric. The Technology for Teaching Forum (TfTF) advises on the provision of AV and associated technology and it is the responsibility of IT Services to provide, maintain and support this technology in line with DISAG (Directorate Information Systems Advisory Group) authorisation and funding.
  • H.2. The maintenance of faculty specialist space is the responsibility of the faculty.
  • H.3. The management of computer rooms (aside from those designated as faculty specialist space; see (2) above) is the responsibility of IT Services. Hardware and software acquisition and developments will be under the overall control of IT Services but will take place in discussion with the relevant users.

I. Roles and Responsibilities in the context of the Timetabling Process8

  • I.1. Timetabling Team
    • I.1.1. Responsible for providing advice and guidance on the policy, processes and procedures for timetabling and room booking policy and processes.
    • I.1.2. Responsible for the timely and accurate compilation of the annual timetable.
    • I.1.3. Responsible for the ongoing management of the timetable, especially in relation to late changes.
    • I.1.4. Responsible for mediating and assisting in resolving timetable problems.
    • I.1.5. Responsible for supporting and advising on the timetabling implications of pedagogical developments that academic staff may wish to introduce.
    • I.1.6. Responsible for keeping abreast of developments and evolution of best practice in the area of timetable scheduling.
    • I.1.7. Responsible for carrying out timetable modelling exercises as and when required by the university.
    • I.1.8. Responsible for providing statistical data, analysis and reports as required.
    • I.1.9. Responsible for maintaining professional relationships with colleagues and participating in the Timetabling Group in the pursuance of their duties.
    • I.1.10 Responsible, through IT Services and the software supplier, for the maintenance and development of the timetabling software platform and its integrity throughout the year and providing support to Scientia Timetabling software users in the University.
    • I.1.11. Responsible for the ad hoc room booking system, online timetables and the web pages which containing timetabling information for staff and students
    • I.1.12. Responsible for the annual rollover of the timetable database.
    • I.1.13. Responsible for the scheduling of the University’s timetable in accordance with the process approved by the Timetabling Group
    • I.1.15. Understand and coordinate the timetable process from an institutional perspective.
    • I.1.16. Responsible for liaising with Faculty staff to encourage colleagues to respond to deadlines, report changes and cancellations of room requirements and work with the Head of Schools to improve the Faculty timetable.
  • I.2. Academic Staff
    • I.2.1. Responsible for professionally engaging with their Faculty Timetabling contact and /or timetabling team in line with the timetabling policy and deadlines.
    • I.2.2. Responsible for ensuring that all information relating to the compilation of the university’s timetable is provided in a timely and accurate manner and in line with deadlines.
    • I.2.3. Responsible for reviewing all drafts of the timetable in a timely and accurate manner and that all comments / observations are communicated to their Faculty Timetabling contact, thus minimising the number of late changes that have to be accommodated following the publication of the final draft timetable.
    • I.2.4. Responsible for ensuring that all issues that may impact on the timetable are communicated to their Faculty Timetabling contact as soon as possible.
    • I.2.5. Responsible for discussing the impact of any pedagogical developments with their Faculty Timetabling contact as early in the development as possible.
    • I.2.6. Responsible for reporting any in-year changes to room booking and requirements to ensure unused or under-utilised space is returned to the central pool, in line with Section E of the policy.

Staff Availability

  • I.2.7. In line with the University’s teaching hours, all full time staff should be available to teach during core teaching hours as outlined in Section A above, except where any of the following apply:
    • I.2.7.1. Formal Flexible working arrangements are in place (approved through HR as part of the Flexible Working Policy).
    • I.2.7.2. Teaching activities require delivery on a weekend.
    • I.2.7.3. The member of staff is required to attend a regular University, Trade Union or external meeting. NOTE: teaching commitments should normally9 be timetabled in the first instance in line with the timetabling process, rather than constraints being imposed on the timetable.
    • I.2.7.4. The member of staff requires time to undertake research, consultancy, clinical practice or other activities agreed with the Dean (or nominee). NOTE: teaching commitments should normally9 be timetabled in the first instance in line with the timetabling process, rather than constraints being imposed on the timetable.
    • I.2.7.5. Wherever possible, part-time and hourly paid staff should be requested to work in line with timetabled activities rather than staff prescribing when activities can be allocated to certain time slots.
  • I.3. Students
    • I.3.1. Responsible for submitting modules choices within the published deadlines.
    • I.3.2. Responsible for checking their academic record is accurate and informing their faculty of any inaccuracies or changes they make in relation to their course or module registrations.
    • I.3.3. Responsible for checking published timetable as it appears on the University website and advising the Campus Advice Centre’s in a timely manner in the event of any timetabled clashes. (N.B. some clashes between optional modules may be unavoidable, and alternative module choice will be advised).
    • I.3.4. Responsible for informing the Faculty through the Campus Advice Centre’s or Student Support of any special arrangements required as a result of disability as early as possible so these can be considered during the planning of the timetable. It is much harder to make reasonable adjustments once the timetable has been finalised.
    • I.3.5. Responsible for regularly checking Unilife for changes, additional activities, room changes etc.
    • I.3.6. Full time students are expected to be available to be taught during the core teaching hours (as outlined in Section A).
    • I.3.7. Part time students are responsible for ensuring they can attend teaching commitments in line with the published timetable.
  • I.4. Estates Department
    • I.4.1. Responsible for the maintenance of the fabric of all teaching space and the furniture therein, aside from designated faculty specialist space, ensuring compliance with Health and Safety at Work, Building Regulation, Disability Discrimination and other policy driven by external legal and statutory requirements.
    • I.4.2. Responsible for the cleanliness of all teaching space.
    • I.4.3. Responsible for managing the impact of all estates developments and ongoing maintenance with the timetabling team, ensuring that all such impacts are communicated in a timely and accurate manner.
    • I.4.4. Responsible for managing the annual space utilisation survey and undertaking room audits on behalf of the Space Management Group
    • I.4.5. Responsible for developing Performance Indicators where faculties have targeted a need to improve room use in certain areas.
  • I.5. IT Services
    • I.6.1. Responsible for providing, maintaining and supporting AV and associated technology in GPT rooms.
    • I.5.2. Responsible for providing, maintaining and supporting IT equipment in Computer rooms and open access areas.
    • I.5.3. Responsible for providing information and advice on new technologies to faculties.
  • I.6. Student Support
    • I.6.1. Responsible for providing the Timetabling Team at a pre-planning stage with details of students specified disability access/egress or other requirement which may impact on the timetable.
    • I.6.2. Responsible for liaising with Estates to establish the suitability of rooms for students with specific needs.
  • I.7. Timetabling Group
    • I.7.1. The terms of reference of this group is detailed as appendix 2.
  • I.8. Space Management Group
    • I.8.1. The terms of reference of this group is detailed as appendix 3.

8 It is acknowledged that Groups and Individuals have wider responsibilities than those outlined here. These roles and responsibilities are specific to the timetabling process.

9 By exception, allocated time slots need to be approved by the Dean (or nominee); it should be noted that any such constraints will impact on the timetable and possibly a student focused timetable.

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Appendix 1: The Timetabling Schedule

The current schedule

Appendix 2: Timetabling Group – terms of reference

The purpose of the Timetabling Group will be to provide a forum consisting of representatives from across the University and campuses, to have informed debate and discussion about timetabling issues, to steer approved principles, policies, and methodologies and to make recommendations for change and development. The Group will report, through its Chair, to Executive.

Its primary aims are:-

  1. To advise Executive on the strategic decisions for timetabling at the University, cognisant of the drivers influencing this direction; strategic plans, student expectation, academic and pedagogical developments, curriculum complexity and choice, estates developments, security, efficiency, space utilisation, environmental factors and resource limitations.
  2. Provide opportunity for student’s to feedback on the Students’ Experience.
  3. To formulate, document and keep under review timetabling principles, discussing, advising and recommending for Executive approval associated policies, methodologies and systems developments.
  4. To approve an annual schedule for the timetable production.
  5. To incorporate in the timetabling schedule the availability of rooms for non-teaching bookings, to consider requirements for non-teaching bookings and approve such bookings10 .
  6. To advise on conflicting requirements for teaching space, discussing and deciding on priorities11 .
  7. To review space utilisation and room survey information and to make recommendations accordingly.
  8. To advise on space requirements and timetabling impacts related to planned curriculum and/or teaching and learning plans/changes and estates work, liaising closely with the Space Management Group.
  9. To review the annual scheduling process and effectiveness of delivery, reviewing timetable publication dates, details of ‘late changes’ and impact on student experience.
  10. To provide a conduit for dissemination of timetabling information/ communications.

10 Approval not required for ad-hoc room bookings, approval required larger event bookings (e.g. conference, weddings, open days, induction/enrolment etc.
fn11. Day to day operational conflicts will be managed through the timetabling team, the Group will only advise on areas requiring debate and approval.

Appendix 3: Space Management Group – terms of reference

  1. Continue to improve space management performance at the University.
  2. Manage the allocation of space in line with University strategy.
  3. Maintain an equitable allocation for all University space users.
  4. Prioritise the allocation of space where competing needs exist.
  5. Ensure that the University’s vision and strategy for learning is reflected in the provision of appropriate spaces throughout the Estate.
  6. Continue to develop policy, procedures and guidelines to improve the working environment for all staff and students.
  7. Comment and make recommendations in respect of significant proposals for change in the allocation, use or reconfiguration of space.
  8. Review, critically, current usage of space.

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