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Image representing difference and inclusion

Inclusion in Higher Education

Inclusion (noun): the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.

The aim of inclusion is to embrace all people irrespective of race, gender, disability, medical or other need. It is about giving equal access and opportunities and getting rid of discrimination and intolerance – and removal of barriers.

Universities are rightly doing all they can to both welcome and accommodate diversity within their student cohort. Last week, Warwick held a conference to progress its decision to introduce gender-neutral toilets in an effort to be more inclusive for students who identify as trans or non-binary (describes any gender identity which does not fit the male and female binary).

It was interesting to see the Space Management and Timetabling Team mentioned in the piece, acknowledging the wide-ranging impact changes like this have on a institution and its policies. We introduced ‘non-binary’ and ‘prefer not to say’ options in Exam Scheduler (ES) last year. Looking forward, Syllabus+ Anywhere will have options for default and configurable genders.

By removing barriers to access, participation and achievement, the average UK university now has more than 500 students who need extra provision (NEP). Exam Scheduler has had good NEP students support from version 3.0, released in 2011. The Exams Management System (EMS) NEP module moves things forward significantly. It is completely configurable in terms of how it can be set up to represent conditions and the effect on how the student is scheduled. It can also be adapted over time to take into account changing understanding of illnesses, legislation changes or temporary conditions.

A growing number of our clients are introducing lecture capture video systems in classrooms. When linked with our core timetabling solution, these systems detect scheduled teaching sessions in the timetable and automatically record them.  If the recorded event is linked to a course, it will be automatically made available to students registered on that course. There are myriad benefits to recording lectures for students to watch again. Most importantly, it increases accessibility and inclusivity for students who may be unable to take notes or physically attend the class.

The Exams Network Conference (ENC) last year highlighted the growth in alternative provision requests for those with mental health issues, not physical conditions. It will be interesting to see how the sector responds to give all students equality of opportunity. We’re running a free workshop on EMS on Tuesday 5 September, 10-4, for anyone at this year’s ENC in Tasmania.

We’d like to hear examples of inclusive practice at your institution. Email them to info@scientia.com.

Enhancing Institutional Services to Improve Student Experience

Institutions are under growing pressure to deliver an interactive and engaging university experience. In today’s challenging academic climate, it’s important for students to have an increasing amount of choice that allows them to select modules and activities according to individual preferences, ultimately resulting in greater student retention and academic success.

How can institutions implement change without impacting on overheads and resource?

Student Allocator is an online web portal that improves institutional services and increases satisfaction with a self-service approach to administration. The software allows students to make suitable choices according to their schedule, with the option to select modules, tutorials and other activities based around their other commitments such as part-time work or childcare.

Academic and administrative staff can also benefit from the flexibility of Student Allocator by creating and reviewing programme structures and restrictions. It allows them to manage aspects such as class size or conflicting student demands in a controlled way.

When linked to Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation, Student Allocator can also maintain a clash-free timetable and facilitate improved attendance monitoring and retention rates; tracking student swaps between tutorial and seminar groups and the accuracy of class lists. By identifying issues early on, staff can intervene and prevent drop outs.

In this video, David Duffett explains how Student Allocator improves institutional services and satisfaction for both staff and students.

The Sky’s the Limit for Cloud Applications in Higher Education

The Cloud is regarded as one of the most innovative IT concepts of recent years, and there are a range of untapped opportunities for higher education institutions to leverage this advanced technology and improve user experience for staff and students.

With Cloud applications, institutions can enhance a range of business processes such as timetabling, room booking and disaster recovery protocol, reducing risks by handing responsibility to an external provider. It can also open up possibilities for data management and resource allocation by providing access to real-time information at the touch of a button.

Here are our top five reasons why universities should be using the Cloud as part of their central IT system:

  1. The Cloud can boost staff and student satisfaction with the convenience of an up-to-date, personalised timetable that is updated automatically within minutes of being changed
  2. The Cloud can make institutions run smoother by providing a single source of truth that is scalable and easy to launch
  3. Universities can create new services rapidly while minimising disruption to the existing timetabling systems and IT roadmap
  4. Cloud technology can be easily configured to meet an institution’s individual requirements with the added benefit of easy integration with third party software
  5. Due to the adaptable nature of Cloud architecture, staff and students can view timetables and bookable spaces through the platform of their choosing

Scientia has been developing new products and applications to leverage the limitless capacity of the Cloud. Scientia developed its Cloud-based application Publish! to improve timetabling services for staff and students by producing real-time personalised schedules from Enterprise Timetabler directly to smartphones, tablets and laptops. This allows them to view timetables in the platform of their choice and guarantees they always have the latest version to account for last minute changes.

Scientia will soon be launching its Resource Booker Cloud-based application which will enable staff and students to make ad-hoc booking for rooms and other resources that they need for their learning and teaching activities such as digital media and computers.

The Cloud has the potential to enact positive change in the way universities operate. In this video, Jed Woodhouse, IT consultant for Scientia, explains why the Cloud could be the technical catalyst to transform services in higher education.

 

Putting Theory into Practice: Optimising your Exam Timetable with Scientia

Exam planning in higher education can be a time-consuming exercise involving numerous stakeholders and competing requirements. Exams often represent a stressful time for students as they reach the end of their degrees and strive for first class honours. With this in mind, it is vital that students are provided with a timetable that includes evenly-spaced exams to reduce anxiety and ensure equal opportunity for success.

Meanwhile the scheduling team has a very different objective for the exam timetable. For them, exams need to be planned in such a way that all available spaces are used effectively (particularly important for exam venues off-campus that must be rented), resulting in fewer sessions and a reduced need for invigilators during the exam period.

How can institutions meet the needs of students without compromising on staff objectives?

The reasons for implementing exam scheduling software are varied and will depend on the institution and its drivers. With Scientia’s Exam Scheduler, universities can cater for the needs of students and staff in equal measure.

Exam Scheduler is a powerful scheduling tool that can accommodate diverse interests to make planning easier and ultimately improve student performance. It enables examinations to be delivered using fewer resources, so institutions can evenly-space exams across a smaller number of spaces and over a shorter period of time.

The timetabling team can optimise staff productivity by utilising existing spaces across fewer sessions. In doing so, institutions can realise a cost saving benefit by reducing the number of external supervisors during the exam period.

Another key benefit of using Exam Scheduler is that timetables are generally published earlier due to the intuitive nature of the software. This allows students to plan their revision accordingly and prepare for exams ahead of time.

Accommodating students needing extra provision can add significant complexity to creating an examination timetable. Exam Scheduler can automate exam planning for these students and allow an institution to timetable exams to meet their needs efficiently and sensitively.

In this video, David Hathaway, Product Manager for Scientia, explains how Exam Scheduler can enhance the student experience and improve institutional efficiency prior to and during the exam period.

How Space Modelling Enhances Campus Redevelopment

Universities across the UK are undertaking redevelopment projects to expand campuses and create new learning spaces for students. In addition to managing the logistical challenges of construction in populated areas, universities must also consider what function the building will serve to staff and students to ensure it is fit for purpose.

A university may be planning for future growth and need to accommodate a greater number of students, or changing their style of teaching and therefore require different types of rooms, such as laboratories or lecture theatres. Campus redevelopment is an expensive investment and it’s difficult to rebuild something once the bricks have been laid, so careful planning is essential.

With Scientia’s Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation timetablers and administrators have the ability to model the building before the foundations are laid, using the auto-scheduling feature to ensure that it will accommodate the students and facilitate the delivery of teaching as planned.

Space modelling with Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation enables universities to save money by calculating precisely the type and capacity of rooms required rather than working with an estimate of floor area based on student numbers. Changes that could improve utilisation of space can be identified at the design stage, rather than being discovered post-construction.

In this short video Duncan Corbett, Product Manager at Scientia, explains the benefits of using space modelling with Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation as an aid for institutional redevelopment.

Timetabling: Planning for the Unexpected with Scientia Publish!

According to student union surveys, one of the biggest sources of frustration for students is arriving at tutorials or lectures to find they have been cancelled at the last minute.

The unpredictability of late changes means that students are regularly making unnecessary trips to campus, wasting time and money travelling to and from the university. Presented with this challenge, Scientia developed a solution that enables academic and timetabling staff to notify students of last minute alterations to the calendar within a matter of minutes

Scientia Publish! is a cloud-based application that makes planning timetables more efficient by enhancing the scheduling procedure for staff and students. Used in conjunction with Enterprise Timetabler, universities can publish real-time personalised timetables direct to smartphones, tablets and laptops and update calendars as and when changes are made. Due to its Cloud-based architecture, the user-friendly software is fully scalable and can be configured to meet specific institutional needs.

Universities can also connect Publish! to other Scientia solutions including the Enterprise Activity Adjuster (EAA), which allows lecturers to make amends to the schedule, such as postponing a session or moving rooms, and automatically notify the students by email. This service is particularly beneficial for those who have to make advanced arrangements such as travel and childcare.

In this video, Eugene Concannon, Product Manager for Scientia, discusses the benefits of Scientia Publish! and how it improves manual timetabling for staff and students.