UWTSD Lampeter Campus : Don't let us become Guinea pigs once again

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The University of Wales Trinity St David's Lampeter Campus wants to implement a new style of teaching on their students and lecturers, this style of teaching is known as block teaching and to but it politely is complete absurd. Block teaching has been described as modernising the style of teaching when in fact its penalising those who are unable to attend university without working a part time job and even more so the mass amount of students (like myself) who chose this campus and university in general for its small lectures and one to ones with lecturers. Not to mention a meeting was called this evening (October 10th) where students could voice their opinions, however  no one really knew about this so called meeting therefore only  4 students actually attended; one second year and 3 first years, of which Jeremy had managed to brainwash them into thinking this idea of block teaching was the best thing since sliced bread.

In an email sent on to all students on Monday the 2nd of October 2017 included an letter which briefly explains what this new style of teaching would do to our courses and when it would put into place ( the beginning of the 2018/2019 academic year ) The letter within the email states ' your programme, like all UG programmes on the Lampeter campus, will run in a series of blocks. These blocks are 5 weeks long with 4 weeks of teaching. Each module will meet four days per week for 3 hours per day (so normally 48 hours of contact per week ) to break this down the newly introduced blocking will be 3 to 4-hour lectures, 4 days a week (Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri) for 4 weeks and then 1 week to complete essays/assignments still amounting to the amount of words that would be spread across a semester, in one week this could start from as little 2000 words but on average will more than likely be at least 4000 words.It is also only one module per block, one solid lecture so there is no variety. These lectures would take place between 9:30-12:30/1:30 so afternoons would be ‘free’ to work in group projects. group projects are now a thing that you will have to do unless student services state otherwise, basically saying a big F-you to any students who attend this university who have social anxiety of which I can assure you there is plenty.Levels would be split into blocks, level 4 (first years) in block 1 and levels 5 and 6 in block two. Levels 5 and 6  will share the same lectures at the same time but will do different essay questions of different levels/strengths, which makes no sense how can there be different strength questions for the exact same module?

when a fellow student questioned Jeremy Smith (Dean for the Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts) on how this new style of teaching would affect his staff  he replied with, “you seem to think lecturers are under a lot of stress” this really  shows how out of  touch Jeremy really is with his staff as he unable to see the rapid change that can happen to lecturers throughout the academic year. Jeremy Smith also stated  ‘many lecturers are okay with this change but some are still upset about but will soon change when the system comes in place’ which is like saying ah yes many of the people who put their heart and soul into educating the future of our society and who spend hours each week with their students are convinced this is a bad idea thus being openly against these changes implies that this ' innovative and modern' change is not a bright idea.Not only are many lecturers against this change many of the student services workers are too and if student services who work in a university campus where around  40% of the students have learning difficulties say its bad it’s obviously not a good idea. 

When the second year who attended the previously stated meeting  tried to explain to Jeremy Smith that many people much like myself will find that learning only one lecture for 4 weeks to be too difficult and in the end would really mess with our heads, he replied with ‘I think it will be better and there is evidence that it works’ Lampeter is not like other university’s we do not work the same way, we are small, many of us have learning difficulties and mental health issues this will negatively affect us greatly! Which again to proves how out of touch he is with his students and their needs!

when the second year student questioned Jeremy Smith on whether this new teaching style was reduce the lecturers availability to discuss essays, dissertations and general course worries Dr Smith simply stated ‘the more and longer lectures have increased contact time ’ and while it sounds great in theory its a bit more than flawed as some students like myself feel uncomfortable discussing certain things in front of large classes (which will be even larger if this block teaching system comes into place) not to mention it will be overworking the lecturers more than they already are with the current system. 

Dr Jeremy Smiths best and most relevant ‘evidence’ of a blocking system working is within Carmarthen campus where they use blocking system for the performing arts students, which has a completely different teaching style and is more of a physical aspect than what most courses at Lampeter do, making this argument practically irrelevant! The only time it could possibly work at Lampeter is Archaeology excavation module, that’s it.

To back to my previous statement that this new blocking system would mess up those who can only afford university even in the small town of Lampeter by working Dr Jeremy Smith offered the ever so considerate reply of  'his focus is on the academic, not whether or not Tesco's can move hours for them' ( which is a horrible answer since the closest supermarkets to us is the Co-op and Salisbury's 

to but it abruptly He simply didn’t want to listen to the students arguments and kept talking over them, which in all honestly is just disrespectful.

not to mention that when they were talking to new possible students in the previous academic year, one of their highlighted points was that this university was small and allowed more freedom and fluidity when choosing courses and modules. They also stated that there would be smaller classes which equals more one on one time with students. They can't just go back on what they promised hundreds of possible students when trying to make this university appealing to them. 

To sum up this argument, the students who finished College/Sixth form in 2017 were guinea pigs for the new A-Levels and that effect was seen throughout the grades, and I like many other first year students refuse to be another specimen for the educational system to test things on, as will the students who arrive next year and the people in the years ahead. I urge people to sign this petition as its unfair and cruel on not only the students but also the lectures. We're not paying £9,250 a year to become a play toy for the university. 

I'd like to thank the second year student Jess for sharing her notes on the meeting as it seems no one else had any idea that this meeting was even taking place!



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