The Project's remit and aims
The 2023-24 teaching timetable will be the first timetable to be scheduled collaboratively.
The new Timetable Policy and associated Code of Practice, plus the new processes and standard operating procedures for the timetable resources will be delivered as outputs for October 2022. Supporting these, are refreshed formal flexible working arrangements data and space data for rooms being used for teaching & learning which will also be delivered as outputs for October 2022.
The scope of this project is to transition the University onto a standard Faculty level model, so that teaching & learning scheduling processes, structures, technology use, and space management is standardised and streamlined. We will be adopting the faculty level model to transition to a standard Faculty level approach by October 2022, so that, scheduling for the 2023/24 academic year is conducted through the revised method.
- A new Timetable Policy and code of practice will support the change in culture around timetable data capture and the scheduling process and priorities.
- Formally agreed Flexible Working Arrangements will be factored into the scheduling of timetables.
- Space management and space booking processes will be updated to enable timetables to publish timetables with room allocations and provide data across the University on where and how we are using our estate for teaching and learning activities.
The Student Experience Programme (SEP) is responsible for implementing new structures and roles related to Timetabling.
SEP's timeline of activity has been carefully considered in relation to the implementation of the new timetabling policy, procedures, and processes. The timeline for curriculum planning is aligned so that the same information is required for both timetabling and updating curriculum structures.
- The Student Experience Programme (SEP) is implementing a new organisational design at the University which includes roles related to Timetabling. Activities related to roles, responsibilities, resource matching and timescales are out of scope.
- Space bookings for non-teaching and learning activities are out of scope, including examination timetabling.
- Ownership of on-campus rooms is out of scope.
- The size and shape of teaching & learning delivered is out of scope, (i.e. the number of course units).
- The boundaries of the teaching week/ teaching hours are out of scope.
- In line with the SEP remit, Global MBA timetabling will be outside of the scope of this project.
- Changing the timetable core software used is out of scope, however, a review of the current Scientia solution has been included up to an outline business case stage only.
Some areas of the university roll their timetables forward each year. While this means that staff with ideal schedules get to keep them, it also means that staff with less attractive schedules are forced to keep theirs.
A timetable that is rolled over doesn't take into account changing staff availability each year and unduly penalises newer staff who end up having to 'fit in' around historical arrangements.
By assessing availability to teach afresh each year and offering every staff member the opportunity to codify their flexible working arrangements, all teaching staff are treated equitably.
Inclusivity is one of the drivers of this transparent approach to considering, for example, FWA's. it is hoped this approach will encourage a more balanced approach throughout the University, which will allow the further incorporation of our Athena Swan aims and those of the broader University.
No. The requirements for each programme can be rolled forward if they've not changed, but how those requirements get scheduled will be recalculated each year. This enables timetables to react to programme amendments, student numbers, staff changes, changes to the estate and new modes of teaching delivery.
Programme and Curriculum teams will:
- collate timetabling requirements for each academic year
- allocate students to activities within the timetabling system
- contribute to the timetable change request process
- facilitate timetable-related communications
Faculty scheduling teams will be Syllabus + super users. They will:
- work with Schools to gather timetable data
- schedule all teaching and learning activities
- work with their counterparts in other Faculties to enable inter-Faculty activities to be scheduled
- provide academic colleagues with feedback on the impact of programme design on timetables
Visit the SEP pages on StaffNet to learn more about the new Faculty team structures and job roles.
You should contact your relevant Faculty Scheduling team for queries regarding the following:
- The scheduling of the timetables, constraints, and priorities
- Teaching Availability Arrangements
- Publication of a provisional draft timetable
- Publication of the formal draft timetable
- The feasibility of a proposed change to the timetable
You should contact your relevant School Programme and Curriculum team for queries regarding the following:
- Timetable activity data capture, constraints, preferences, and requirements and its submission to the Faculty Scheduling Team.
- Submitting information about which units cannot clash to inform scheduling decisions.
- Submitting information from Course Unit leads about the structure and pedagogy of their course(s), and other timetabling activity data/requirements.
- Deadlines for return of timetable information to the School team
- Allocation of students to activities in the timetable
- Amendments to submitted timetable information e.g. staff
- Timetable change requests
The majority of taught activities for UG and PGT students, and any taught elements of a PGR programme will be managed centrally, by Faculty teams. Some very small classes may not be scheduled by Faculty timetabling teams.
The Global MBA Programme within Alliance Manchester Business School.
Teaching spaces located within the Executive Education Centre building.
The taught elements of PGR programmes requiring any combination of students, staff and on-campus space will be scheduled by the Faculty scheduling teams.
There are no plans to change the ownership of spaces, but bookings for these rooms will need to be recorded on the timetabling system so that students can see them on their timetable and to avoid the risk of clashes between teaching and other activities, such as meetings.
To deliver a timetable sooner than before, preparation must begin earlier than before. Scheduling of cross-Faculty programmes will improve, as the three Faculty Scheduling teams will be generating the timetable at the same time and in the same way and will be able to work together to assess the needs and interdependencies of programmes spanning multiple areas.
The data capture timeline was designed in conjunction with programme enrolment colleagues and was first published on 1 August 2022. The timeline for Year One of Faculty-led collaborative timetabling was established as a conservative compromise to recognise that it will be the first year of the process, and to attempt to provide all stakeholders with a reasonable amount of time to complete their contributions. If you have comments and suggestions for the Year Two timeline, please e-mail email@example.com.
I don’t think I can meet the earlier deadline specified to provide my School with my timetable requirements. What should I do?
You should submit your unit requirements as best you can, forecasting what you will require in terms of contact time and space. It is better to submit what you expect to deliver and adapt as necessary during the scheduling period, and afterwards if necessary. Faculty Scheduling teams have the option to publish the draft timetables from the start of scheduling (17 April 2023), with the caveat that they may change during scheduling.
Faculty Scheduling teams can be contacted during the scheduling period (from 17 April 2023)in order to provide updates and corrections to previously submitted data. It is important to do this as early as possible during the scheduling period or immediately after publication so that essential changes can be addressed earlier. Changes can always be communicated to the School and Faculty Scheduling team after unit reviews.
Yes, teaching and learning requirements will be factored into collaborative timetabling. Specific location requirements such as laboratories, or rooms with specific pieces of equipment, can be specified (i.e. 'I need a room with "x" properties') and are considered to be hard constraints.
Course unit leaders are responsible for ensuring that accurate information regarding their requirements for teaching is communicated to their School’s Programme and Curriculum Team.
Each School will have a process and deadlines for capturing timetable information. It is vital that technical colleagues feed into this process and the Timetable Project would encourage technical colleagues to contact their School Programme and Curriculum team and Faculty Scheduling team in order to contribute to constructing and improving timetable data.
Specific days and times for taught activities don’t need to be stated unless exceptional circumstances apply though for laboratory sessions that last all day for specific cohorts this may not apply.
Technical colleagues may wish to inform School Programme and Curriculum teams of the following factors as part of timetable data:
- Appropriate class sizes for safe work on specialist equipment
- Specific location information/room numbers for specialist spaces
- Any requirement for nearby waiting/break-out space
- Recommended set-up and set-down time for labs or specialist equipment
- The name(s) of technical colleagues associated for delivering particular sessions
- The availability of any staff with formal Flexible Working Arrangements to indicate when certain sessions cannot be timetabled
- Identify appropriate computer clusters for software specific sessions
- Any lab sessions that cannot run concurrently for safety reasons
- Any lab sessions that cannot run past a particular time due to any required set down
- Suggestions for using placeholder blocks in the timetable in lieu of final lab details
Technical line managers are encouraged to confirm any details of technical colleagues with Flexible Working Arrangements so that their availability can be taken into account during scheduling.
During the timetable data capture period (January to March), if the names of individual technical staff associated with specific lab and technical activities are known, these can be provided so that the scheduling process takes into account the availability of those colleagues. Academic unit coordinators or School programme and Curriculum/PGR Services colleagues can gather this as part of the timetable data capture.
If one of several technical colleagues are available to cover an activity, Faculty Scheduling teams can set up pools of these colleagues for scheduling purposes.
Timetables will be scheduled with the attempt to avoid unwanted back-to-back teaching of different units (there are cases where back-to-back is the desirable outcome e.g. a lecuture followed by a seminar). There may be times when other constraints and scheduling priorities mean back-to-back teaching is unavoidable.
Where the details of staff delivering specific activities is provided, timetables will be scheduled to avoid staff clashes. Where this is unavoidable (for example, multiple staff required at day-long presentations) unit teaching teams will be expected to arrange their availability accordingly.
Keeping travel time down between timetabled activities is one of the factors taken into account, and timetables will be scheduled with the attempt to avoid back-to-back teaching in different buildings. There may be times when other constraints and scheduling priorities mean back-to-back teaching in different buildings is unavoidable.
The priority for timetabling is scheduling teaching and learning activities; just getting these into a workable shape is hard. Schools may request that other activity types be taken into account and these would be considered a soft constraint.
School staff can book School owned or centrally owned spaces for staff meetings.
Should Wednesday afternoons be avoided to ensure that students from all levels can engage in co-curricular activities and sports?
University policy is currently that no teaching should occur on Wednesday afternoon for UG students. Postgraduate teaching on Wednesday afterrnoon is allowed. The updated policy maintains this existing custom and has no plans to change this.
How will we have enough teaching space after North Campus is closed and we lose 21% of teaching estates?
Even with North Campus closed, we still have a very large teaching estate (and one of the lowest levels of utilisation of that estate in the sector).
One of the biggest timetable challenges for us comes from the large number of course options available; staff and students can't be in two places at once, so it's more an issue of time than space.
As part of collaborative timetabling, teaching requirements are submitted without days and times (some exceptions apply, for example, fixed days for labs). Faculty teams are then able to allocate activities to locations using the whole estate, to avoid two or more areas requesting the same space or space type for the same day and time.
Any room that will have teaching and learning activities taking place in it will be on Syllabus+.
Rooms without teaching and learning activities in them may still appear in Syllabus+, but only for space booking purposes.
We want all teaching and learning activity to appear on student timetables, but we recognise this isn't always practical for some activities, such as 1:1 tutorials. We are exploring an IT solution to fill this gap and allow academics to arrange such meetings independently, but with full visibility of the timetable commitments of everyone involved.
Syllabus+ super users will be the staff in Faculty scheduling teams and the central timetabling team.