The STOP Project is funded by JISC under the Flexible Service Delivery Programme
The Student Timetabling Online Project (STOP) was developed due to the identification of the need for the provision of a timetable in a sufficiently timely fashion to allow students to make informed work/life/study decisions as one of a number of changes that not only benefited students, but also increased the professionalism with which the university engages with students.
The Student Timetabling Online Project (STOP) was developed due to the identification of the need for the provision of a timetable in a sufficiently timely fashion allowing students to make informed work/life/study decisions, as one of a number of changes that not only benefited students, but also increased the professionalism with which the University engages with students. In addition, there is a requirement to improve the utilisation of the University’s estate. Over the last 6 years, 8 new building projects have enhanced the teaching provision of the university estate at a cost of over £70M. As demand for rooms increases, it is important that additional demand makes efficient use of existing space before there is a need for additional building work. The STOP project will use a business process review methodology to establish the current “as is” and roadmap the required development to achieve the “to be”. The project will utilise change management methodology to manage the introduction and engagement of this project across the institution.
Currently the method through which students receive their timetable varies considerably from school to school. Generally students receive a draft version of a timetable prior to arrival in either a paper copy or a word or excel document. They can access individual module information through their eLearn (VLE) accounts for each module or look up a room on the UCLan Module Catalogue. However, this system is not free from flaws and requires the students to have particular information such as module code, group numbers, staff names, etc and often the information on the system is not sufficient to respond to the students’ queries. They cannot however, access their full timetable through any of the university systems and it is only available in the format in which it was originally provided (paper based). Often students are frustrated with not receiving complete timetables before arrival as it causes them issues such as arranging suitable child care and fitting in employment. The frustration with timetables can cause undue stress to students and can have a significantly detrimental effect on a student on the brink of withdrawal.
UCLan recognises that the university needs to become more flexible to enable the students to juggle university around their lives and work. Therefore, they need a system, which will deliver their timetable in a timely manner and will be easy to access on an ongoing basis. The process will aid retention by encouraging staff to plan their modules in advance allowing students a clearer picture of their lesson times. Rooms are currently booked through the Room Bookings unit, who use the CMIS system however, the scheduling aspect of the software is not utilised. Academic staff create timetables for the courses they run and submit them to the Room Bookings Team who allocate the rooms. This means that rooms are allocated partly on a first come first served basis and partly on informal rules, which should not be applied. As a result the room allocated may not be the most suitable room for the purpose. For example a 500 capacity lecture theatre can be booked for a class with 40 students.
Overbooking often occurs by staff booking more rooms than required. STOP aims to develop a system to provide an online environment, through which timetables are automatically created. This system will be influenced by a policy that outlines considerations and constraints. The system will enable the production of timetables based on staff name, student name or module. STOP would create a variety of timetables from courses that run following the standard academic year to part time, evening and weekend courses and courses that do not follow the standard academic calendar.
The system will be designed to work with the current CMIS room booking system and other university systems such as the student record system, Banner, to enable the creation of these timetables. The new system will significantly improve the experience of students who require specialist support such as a signer to interpret their lecture. Currently these support staff often struggle to access information about the location of students’ classes, which can prevent the students receiving the support they require. The new system will enable these staff to search for the students and find their individual timetable.