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Last week the Academic Board voted down the University’s proposal to extend trimester three and cut trimester two’s midterm break. Thank God.
In the lead up to the decision, VUWSA and students had expressed strong opposition to the changes on the basis that the extension would reduce students’ holidays and take away the time needed for assignments, work and general R&R.
In fact, 65% of students surveyed by VUWSA either “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” with the proposal.
Interim Provost Professor Barrie Macdonald proposed the changes on the basis that an extended trimester three would benefit international students and those studying towards 180-point Master’s, and assist undergraduates in completing their degree “more quickly”.
VUWSA submitted in opposition to the proposal in the hope of preserving “the student experience and the wellbeing of all those who attend VUW”.
“If we are to provide a student experience that is second to none, it is crucial that students are not only listened to in this regard, but are also involved in the implementation process of any changes to the academic year,” the association said.
The Academic Board also received 38 submissions from individual academic staff, schools, programmes, committees, faculties and central service units, and while not all were against extending trimester three, many rejected shortening the second trimester break as a solution.
VUWSA President Rick Zwaan, who voted on the decision during Tuesday’s meeting, pointed out that a number of academics spoke against the proposal claiming that “no one really knew what the reason for doing it in the first place was”.
While Zwaan noted the proposal was described by a fellow Board member as a “slow trainwreck”, VUWSA Academic Vice President Jonathan Gee praised the Academic Board for recognising “that students matter and our wellbeing matters”.