My Timetable26 August 2020
The new decade has seen the University adopt a new timetabling system, with MyTimetable’s preferential class allocations replacing my.unimelb. This change has been polarising.
A statement released online by the University indicates that the system is designed to confer an “equitable opportunity” for all students to receive their “preferred class timetable”.
“By following a preference-based model, students who have other commitments, such as employment or carer responsibilities, or who are returning or living overseas … aren’t disadvantaged,” the University said.
The University Student Union’s (UMSU) Education Departments have been polling student opinions on MyTimetable, receiving approximately 800 responses at the time of writing.
The average overall satisfaction with the new system has been 2.2 out of 6, with 45% of responses rating the system a 1, and only 3% a 6. Further, student satisfaction with the timetable they were assigned was also low, with 38% of responses reporting a 1 out of 6, and only 8% returning a perfect grade.
Office-bearer for UMSU’s Education (Academic) portfolio, Georgia Walton Briggs, shared some thoughts on the student feedback.
“The most disappointing part of the MyTimetable survey has been the lack of proper consultation with students in its creation,” Walton Briggs said.
“Many students have found the system to not be very user-friendly.”
This is confirmed by the survey, where the average response on user-friendliness sits at 2.4 out of 6.
Second-year Arts student, Marcie Di Bartolomeo, was critical of how long it takes to receive a complete timetable.
“It ultimately leaves students in limbo for several weeks after selecting preferences, which spells havoc for job interviews, auditions, and anything that involves disclosing availability over a semester,” they said.
Unfamiliarity on the faculty end also led to human error, as experienced by one second-year Computing student.
“One of my subjects forgot to stream out classes, so they ended up kicking us all out of our allocations … then opened it later in a first come, first served allocation without letting us know.”
Some students, however, like third-year Arts student, Lucette Moulang, appreciated the University’s efforts to mitigate disadvantages faced by some students.
“The old process needed students to be sat at a computer at a very specific time and be able to quickly work out logistics,” she said.
“So many factors can come in the way of this: physical disability, access to [a] computer, access to (fast) internet, neurodivergence, not having to work at that time, not having to be at an appointment… the list goes on.”
This sentiment was echoed by Walton Briggs.
“We are pleased to see the University is taking steps to make the new timetabling system more accessible for all students.”
“We just think that the system could have been better designed for all students if there had been greater communication and consultation prior to its implementation.”
While any change to the student experience generates debate, it remains to be seen whether the MyTimetable system is embraced, or if any of its flaws are mitigated.
Results from the UMSU Education Survey are from late February and will be updated online.