Policy

Management of Class Timetabling and Room Bookings - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This policy and the associated procedures and guidelines are concerned with the management of timetabling and room bookings across the University.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Academic Calendar – The official University calendar, comprising important information about the academic use of the year, including official semesters and teaching weeks.

Clashes – Where a mandatory class is scheduled at the same time as another mandatory class within a set program.

Official Teaching Weeks – Standard semester teaching weeks as identified in the Academic Calendar.

Teaching Space Management (TSM) – The central unit within Academic Services Division (ASD) that manages the use of centrally controlled teaching and learning spaces and coordinates the production and publication of class timetables.

Timetabling System – The central database that collects timetabling information and produces a scheduled timetable.

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

This policy applies to all staff at The University of Queensland. This policy does not deal with the establishment of the Academic Calendar or the designation of associated official teaching weeks.

4. Policy Statement

The University seeks to maintain the highest standards of teaching and to provide students with an enriched learning experience. This experience comprises the quality of students’ programs of study, their learning environment, and the scholars who guide and teach them. In providing this framework, the University is committed to meeting its responsibility to produce the most effective timetable for students and staff, and to ensure optimal use of teaching resources.

5. Timetabling and Room Bookings System

All timetabled classes that require allocation of teaching space must be recorded through one system (unless otherwise approved) in order to maintain data consistency, to obtain realistic space utilisation statistics, and to avoid clashes and other potential disruptive issues.

The timetable system is managed by Teaching Space Management (TSM) within the Academic Services Division (ASD). Timetabling data is collected and supplied by School and Faculty representatives and is then used by Teaching Space Management to produce a semester timetable. Room booking information is entered into the system by Schools, Faculties, Institutes and other departments that manage bookable space.

6. Timetable Development

Students enrolled in a standard program must be able to attend mandatory classes in all core courses and as far as possible have a reasonable selection of electives from which to choose. To maximise the teaching and learning experience the following principles apply when establishing the class timetable:

  • Minimising clashes in student timetables;
  • Ensuring class activities match appropriate teaching spaces;
  • Meeting the competing needs of different degree programs; and
  • Facilitating student attendance.

Other factors that influence the development of the timetable include the availability of academic staff and the need to optimise the utilisation of teaching space.

7. Official Teaching Hours

Teaching hours are between 8am (start) and 10pm (finish) Monday to Friday.

8. Timetabling Responsibilities

Timetabling is a complex task which is a shared responsibility across the University. Many groups of staff strive for the creation of a timetable of the highest possible quality for the benefit of students and the use of teaching staff.

  1. TSM staff in ASD have overall responsibility for managing the technical aspects of timetable production including support for central timetabling software. TSM also support, through the Senior Executive and associated committees, the maintenance and oversight of an institution-wide timetabling policy to ensure that the timetable optimises the student experience while recognising genuine pedagogical considerations and effective space utilisation.
  2. Executive members of staff in Faculties and Schools are responsible for ensuring timetabling efforts are resourced appropriately in their respective areas and that the academic requirements of their programs are identified accurately and in a timely manner.
  3. Timetabling Coordinators at Faculty and School level play a vital role in liaising with their academic colleagues to collate and enter data into the central timetabling system and to review and refine the output, while maintaining a challenging schedule for production of the timetable.
Custodians
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson

Procedures

Management of Class Timetabling and Room Bookings - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures enact PPL 3.70.01 Management of Class Timetabling and Room Bookings - Policy.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Academic Calendar – The official University calendar, comprising important information about the academic use of the year, including official semesters and teaching weeks.

Ad Hoc bookings – Activities that are allocated to bookable space, usually after the finalisation of the semester timetable.

Business Process Calendar – A calendar of timetabling process activities, milestones and deadlines.

Centrally controlled teaching space – Teaching space that is controlled and maintained by Teaching Space Management and that is allocated to all Schools and Faculties on an equal basis and according to their requirements.

Clashes – Where a mandatory class is scheduled at the same time as another mandatory class within a set program.

Class size – The number of students enrolled in a class.

Day Classes – Nomenclature used in the timetable system for any day class scheduled within the hours of 8am and 6pm.

High Priority Class Scheduling – The first stage of timetable scheduling that focuses on the classes in each course identified by Timetabling Coordinators as most important (explained in Procedures 6.4)

Intensive Class – A timetabled class that is taught in a continuous block of time over a shorter week pattern.

Night Class – Nomenclature used in the timetable system for any night class scheduled within the hours of 6pm and 10pm.

Official Teaching Weeks – Standard semester teaching weeks as identified in the Academic Calendar.

Published Timetable – The working iteration of the timetable published to students after changes to the draft timetable from staff.

Repeat Classes – Classes of the same class type with one or more options for students to choose from.

Room Capacity – The official number of students who can be accommodated in a teaching space, as governed by OH&S regulations.

Scheduling Priorities – The criteria/principles determining the order in which classes are scheduled to ensure all classes can be appropriately accommodated.

School controlled teaching space – Teaching space that is managed by the relevant School or Faculty.

Teaching Space Management (TSM) – The central unit within Academic Services Division (ASD) that manages the use of centrally controlled teaching and learning spaces and coordinates the production and publication of class timetables.

Timetabling Co-ordinators – Staff within Schools or faculties who are responsible for the input and maintenance of information that informs production of the scheduled timetable.

Timetabling System – The central database that collects timetabling information and produces a scheduled timetable.

Weekend Class – A timetabled class scheduled on Saturday and/or Sunday.

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to all staff involved in the timetabling and room booking process at The University of Queensland.

4. Procedures Statement

In developing an institution-wide timetable the University seeks to ensure quality outcomes for teaching and learning activities for students whilst optimising space utilisation.

5. Timetabling Roles and Responsibilities

Areas of the University which require timetabling must appoint an appropriate level of staffing to perform the tasks associated with, and to assume responsibility for, the timetabling process. Below are the relevant stakeholders and their responsibilities in relation to these tasks.

Teaching Space Management (Central)

  • Configuring the timetable system each year
  • Determining the annual Business Process Calendar to ensure appropriate timeframes for timetabling workloads and timely publication to students
  • Providing support and training to Timetabling Coordinators as required
  • Providing Timetabling Coordinators with:
    • Details of the data to be collected
    • The format in which the data is required
    • The time frame in which the data is to be collected
  • Facilitating the collection of necessary timetabling information by Timetabling Coordinators
  • Advising Timetabling Coordinators of data inconsistencies and problems with data setup
  • Manipulating timetable data as necessary to adhere to the requirements of the timetabling system
  • Scheduling the draft timetable
  • Ensuring the timetable is published to staff and students in the prescribed timeframes
  • Actioning requested timetable changes from Schools and Faculties where possible
  • Resolving timetabling issues with key stakeholders where necessary
  • Coordinating audits of central teaching spaces to ensure they meet teaching requirements.

Timetabling Coordinators (Faculty/School)

  • Checking information as requested by TSM, in conjunction with other relevant Faculty/School staff if necessary
  • Entering necessary data into the appropriate data collection systems, within the prescribed timeframes
  • Advising TSM after the data collection process of any changes to timetabling information, according to prescribed timeframes
  • Scheduling specific School activities as required in accordance with prescribed timeframes
  • Analysing the draft timetables, in conjunction with other relevant Faculty/School staff, for quality and appropriateness
  • Using the timetable system to make timely adjustments to classes allocated to School controlled teaching spaces
  • Providing TSM with timely requests for adjustments to the timetable that are allocated to central teaching rooms and ensuring the appropriate authorisation is obtained as applicable – this will include using the timetable system to assess the appropriateness of requests prior to submission to TSM
  • Maintaining auditable records of timetable changes and associated approval correspondence
  • Coordinating audits of School/Faculty controlled teaching spaces to ensure they meet teaching requirements
  • Attending appropriate training and information sessions to keep up to date with changes to timetabling practices
  • Working collaboratively with other Schools and Faculties to assist with timetabling needs of the wider University community.

Executive and managerial staff within each Faculty/School

  • Confirming which courses will or will not be offered for the upcoming teaching period
  • Providing enrolment estimations to Timetabling Coordinators
  • Where requested by the Timetabling Coordinator, approving change requests to the published timetable
  • Allocating teaching staff to all classes, including allocating casual staff to classes which are not taught by permanent staff members.

Course Coordinators

  • Ensuring the provision of accurate data during timetable preparation
  • Checking the draft timetable and identifying necessary changes to the Timetabling Coordinator
  • Making requests to Timetabling Coordinators to modify the timetable where necessary
  • Managing timetabling issues arising from student and/or staff requests
  • Actioning Disability Action Plans as they are received.

Teaching staff

  • Checking individual timetables immediately after the draft release of the semester timetable, and identifying any issues or concerns to the Course Coordinators or Timetabling Coordinators
  • Organising the resetting of furniture to its original layout at the conclusion of a class in time for the next class to commence, ensuring teaching rooms are kept clean as they were found
  • Notifying Timetable Coordinators and/or Teaching Space Management of issues relating to teaching space operations including misplaced furniture or equipment faults.

6. General Class Timetabling Procedures

6.1 Allocation of teaching space

6.1.1 All on-campus classes related to the delivery of a course must be timetabled through the central timetabling system. Where teaching activities are timetabled at shared sites, using a combination of UQ teaching space and space owned by other providers (such as Queensland Health), the entire timetable must be maintained within a single system; in such cases, it may not be practicable for the allocation of University teaching space to be recorded through the University’s timetabling system.

6.1.2 On-campus classes must not be scheduled on an ad hoc basis.

6.1.3 Estimated course enrolments must be based on realistic enrolment projections supported by relevant data.

6.1.4 The official capacity of a teaching space must not be exceeded by the number of students who are attending a prescribed class. If class enrolments within the student system exceed the official capacity of a teaching space by more than 10% alternative options must be investigated as soon as the excess becomes evident. Alternative options include requesting a larger teaching space, video linking to another teaching space, providing repeat sessions, or investigating assignment of students to alternative classes. Additional information in relation to managing overcrowding of teaching space can be found in PPL 7.20.01 Space Management.

6.1.5 Classes scheduled in teaching space where actual enrolments are lower than the official seating capacity can be required to relocate to a more appropriately sized teaching space to accommodate other required timetabling changes as determined by Teaching Space Management.

6.1.6 Where School or Faculty space is available, it should be utilised before centrally controlled space of similar size/utility is requested. This also applies to rooms of a specialist nature that have the capacity to be used as general seminar rooms.

6.2 Class times

6.2.1 Scheduling outside official teaching hours must be approved by an Executive Dean (or where not available or otherwise not reasonably practicable, a Head of School or an Associate Dean (Academic)) except as set out in 6.2.2.

6.2.2 Scheduling outside official teaching hours does not require approval when the course delivery mode is intensive or the course structure necessitates that class contact falls outside the official spread of teaching hours (i.e. field trips, classes scheduled on weekends).

6.2.3 The hours for scheduling undergraduate teaching are from 8am to 8pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 5pm Friday.

6.2.4 To accommodate the needs of the wider University community, specific days and times cannot be configured in centrally controlled teaching spaces without the prior approval of Teaching Space Management.

6.2.5 The minimum unit of time for classes is one (1) hour which comprises of fifty (50) minutes of class time followed by ten (10) minutes to facilitate change-over between classes. Classes must commence on the hour except when two (2) one and a half (1.5) hour classes are scheduled back to back in the same location.

6.2.6 Where students are required to attend compulsory teaching sessions across more than one campus or site, appropriate travel time must be incorporated in the production of the draft timetable.

6.3 Academic staff unavailability and school meetings

6.3.1 Staff unavailability can only be taken into account when creating the class timetable where a staff member is part time or has compelling reasons as approved by the Head of School.

6.3.2 In general, the timetabling system will assign a day of the week free of teaching for research active staff if there is no specific requirement for a particular ‘teaching free’ day.  Where research active staff have negotiated and agreed on a particular ‘teaching free’ day with the Head of School, this must be configured in the timetabling system taking into consideration other scheduling constraints.

6.3.3 School meetings required during teaching weeks can be identified by Timetabling Coordinators prior to the creation of the draft timetable as follows:

  • One (1) general School meeting of up to two (2) hours duration per week
  • Up to two (2) other School meetings (such as RHD Milestones, Seminar Series) of up to two (2) hours duration each per week.

6.3.4 Timetabling Coordinators may not request additional meetings during official teaching weeks until after the publication of the class timetable.

6.3.5 Scheduled meetings are to commence on the even hour to allow flexibility for student centred changes to the class timetable.

6.3.6 School meetings allocated to a centrally controlled teaching space can be required to investigate alternative options if an allocated space is required for teaching purposes.

6.4 Timetabling scheduling practices

6.4.1 The production of the draft timetable must occur in two (2) stages:

  1. High Priority Classes (determined by Timetabling Coordinators as most important to be scheduled first)
  2. All Other Remaining Classes (those that would be scheduled around the most important classes).

Separating the scheduling process into two (2) stages allows greater flexibility when considering priority class timetable changes. Once all requests have been actioned by TSM all other remaining classes are then scheduled.

6.4.2 Timetabling Coordinators must indicate high priority classes within each course, ensuring that the main or most important classes are considered first in the timetabling process.

6.4.3 The priority draft timetable must be released to staff only, to allow for feedback and adjustment prior to advancing to the scheduling of all other remaining classes.

6.4.5 Where Schools or Faculties have general teaching spaces categorised as shared spaces with other Schools, available times can be allocated on a needs basis only after priority has been given to the controlling School or Faculty. Additional information on shared School/Faculty locations can be found in PPL 7.20.01 Space Management.

6.5 Modifications to the draft timetable

6.5.1 Timetabling Coordinators must analyse the draft timetable and, depending on the type of change, either make direct changes to the University timetabling system or to make timely change requests to Teaching Space Management.

6.5.2 Relevant professional staff and academic staff must also review the draft timetable and request changes to the relevant timetabling coordinator.

6.5.3 Preferences for alternative days, times or locations must be indicated during the draft timetable stage in order to minimise disruption for students once the timetable is published.

6.5.4 Prior to requesting a timetabling change, the following factors must be considered:

  • Mandatory courses that students may be enrolled in
  • The number of student enrolments within the relevant class
  • The associated capacity, features and availability of the requested location
  • The availability of academic staff
  • Adequate breaks for staff and students.

6.6 Publication of the timetable

6.6.1 The timetable must be published at a time and in a manner that enables students to make informed decisions regarding course selection for the upcoming teaching period.

6.7 Modifications to the published timetable

6.7.1 Modifications to the timetable after publication must be kept to a minimum to enable students to make informed decisions that best fit their academic interests as well as their work and family commitments.

6.7.2 Timetable coordinators must ensure that intensive or irregular timetabled activities do not fall on public holidays during the draft phase of the timetable. 

6.7.3 Makeup classes for weekly activities can only be considered after the class timetable has been published and as determined by TSM.

6.7.4 Ad hoc bookings for additional rooms for in class examinations during semester and within standard teaching days and times can only be considered by TSM after the class timetable has been published.

6.7.5 When a proposed timetabling change request might be considered contentious, TSM must consult with the relevant executive staff within the School or Faculty when considering the viability of the request.

6.7.6 Requests by Timetabling Coordinators to modify the published timetable can only be considered by TSM Management under the following circumstances:

  • Deleting a class that is no longer required due to fewer than expected course enrolments
  • Adding a class because course enrolments have exceeded expectations
  • Changing a location where course enrolment numbers exceed expectation and the allocated location cannot accommodate the numbers enrolled.   This may mean that the day and time of the class may also change
  • Changing a location where course enrolment numbers are below expectation and a smaller location will suffice.

6.7.7 The following types of timetable changes after publication require approval by a senior staff member within the Faculty as appointed by the Executive Dean:

  • Late course offering
  • Changes to course delivery (i.e. mode of delivery, duration of class, lecture/tutorial changed to lecture/tutorial/practical)
  • Changing teaching staff or class day/time necessitated by the sudden unavailability of a scheduled staff member with consideration to 6.3.1.

6.7.8 Main classes such as lectures must take priority over repeat classes such as tutorials when changes are made in response to fluctuating enrolments.

6.7.9 Where the modification of a class involves more than one Faculty or School, the relevant Timetabling Coordinators must negotiate the change so that all parties are satisfied prior to submitting the request.

6.7.10 All stakeholders impacted by the class changes after publication of the timetable, such as enrolled students, academic staff, professional staff and any other potential users, must be notified of the change by staff within the School or Faculty.

6.7.11 When a late change has been requested and actioned within forty eight (48) hours prior to the class taking place, appropriate signage must be displayed by Timetabling Coordinators (or appointed/assigned staff) at the relevant location/s in order to notify students of the revised class timetable. Signage must be removed at the end of the class.

6.8 Unused timetabled classes

6.8.1 At the end of week two (2) of the teaching semester, any unused timetabled classes must be identified for deletion from the timetable system by Timetabling Coordinators so that the allocated teaching spaces may be used elsewhere.

6.9 Timetable issues resolution

6.9.1 In the instance where there are conflicting requirements between, or contention for the same resource by, two or more Schools, the following steps must be taken:

  • The affected parties must negotiate a solution amongst themselves that is acceptable to all
  • If a solution cannot be agreed upon, Teaching Space Management is to intervene to determine the most favourable outcome to the majority of students affected
  • Where a solution still cannot be reached, the issue must be raised with the relevant executive staff member.

7. General Room Booking Procedures

7.1 Use of central teaching and learning space

7.1.1 Under normal circumstances due to timetabling changes, ad hoc booking requests for teaching spaces are not considered during teaching weeks until after week 2 of the relevant semester.

7.1.2 Ad hoc booking requests for weekends and nights within teaching weeks can be considered at the time of publication of the relevant semester timetable.

7.1.3 Where an important University-run event requires the use of available teaching space during the first 2 weeks of semester or requires early confirmation of rooms during teaching weeks prior to week 1 of semester, written approval must be submitted to the Manager of Teaching Space Management by a member of the senior executive or senior management within the Faculty.

7.1.4 In the event that the location of a timetabled class needs to be changed, the relocation of the timetabled class will take priority over any ad hoc room booking previously confirmed.

7.1.5 Should set up or pack down time be required as part of a booking, this must be incorporated in the requested booking times.

7.1.6 Ad hoc booking requests for University business where a registration fee applies must be charged at a discounted rate as determined by the Manager of Teaching Space Management.

7.1.7 Ad hoc bookings must conclude ten (10) minutes prior to the scheduled end time.

7.1.8 A schedule of hire charges applies for use of centrally controlled teaching spaces and is available from the Teaching Space Management website.

7.1.9 Terms of hire apply for use of centrally managed teaching and learning space and are available from the Teaching Space Management website. All external hirers must provide evidence of current public liability insurance.

7.1.10 Registered student groups and external clients wishing to hire teaching and learning space are required to agree to set terms and conditions as specified by the University.

7.1.11 The University reserves the right to refuse any application to use its facilities.

7.2 Use of School, Faculty and Institute bookable space

7.2.1 Teaching and learning space not controlled centrally may be made available for room bookings at the discretion of the organisational unit.

7.2.2 Designated teaching spaces should not be booked during week one (1) of semester teaching weeks in line with 7.1.1.

Custodians
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson

Guidelines

Management of Class Timetabling and Room Bookings - Guidelines

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Body

1. Purpose and Objectives

These guidelines supplement the policy and procedures relating to PPL 3.70.01 Management of Class Timetabling and Room Bookings.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Academic Calendar – The official University calendar, comprising important information about the academic use of the year, including official semesters and teaching weeks.

Ad Hoc bookings – Activities that are allocated to bookable space, usually after the finalisation of the semester timetable.

Business Process Calendar – A calendar of timetabling process activities, milestones and deadlines.

Centrally controlled Teaching Space – Teaching space that is controlled and maintained by Teaching Space Management and that is allocated to all Schools and Faculties on an equal basis and according to their requirements.

Clashes – Where a mandatory class is scheduled at the same time as another mandatory class within a set program.

Class size – The number of students enrolled in a class.

Day Classes – Nomenclature used in the timetable system for any day class scheduled within the hours of 8am and 6pm.

High Priority Class Scheduling – The first stage of timetable scheduling that focuses on the classes in each course identified by Timetabling Coordinators as most important (explained in Procedures 6.4).

Intensive Class – A timetabled class that is taught in a continuous block of time over a shorter week pattern.

Night Class – Nomenclature used in the timetable system for any night class scheduled within the hours of 6pm and 10pm.

Official Teaching Weeks – Standard semester teaching weeks as identified in the Academic Calendar.

Published Timetable – The working iteration of the timetable published to students after changes to the draft timetable from staff.

Repeat Classes – Classes of the same class type with one or more options for students to choose from.

Room Capacity – The official number of students who can be accommodated in a teaching space, as governed by OH&S regulations.

Scheduling Priorities – The criteria/principles determining the order in which classes are scheduled to ensure all classes can be appropriately accommodated.

School controlled teaching space – Teaching space that is managed by the relevant School or Faculty.

Teaching Space Management (TSM) – The central unit within Academic Services Division (ASD) that manages the use of centrally controlled teaching and learning spaces and coordinates the production and publication of class timetables.

Timetabling Co-ordinators – Staff within Schools or Faculties who are responsible for the input and maintenance of information that informs production of the scheduled timetable.

Timetabling System – The central database that collects timetabling information and produces a scheduled timetable.

Weekend Class – A timetabled class scheduled on Saturday and/or Sunday.

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These guidelines apply to all staff involved in the timetabling and room booking process at The University of Queensland.

4. General Class Timetabling Guidelines

4.1 Scheduling on the even hour

4.1.1 Where possible, classes of two (2) hour duration will be timetabled on the even hour. If a two (2) hour class must commence on the odd hour, it will only be considered if the maximum utilisation of the teaching space is not compromised.

4.1.2 Classes should only commence on the half hour where they follow another class of one and a half (1.5) hours duration in the same scheduled teaching space. These classes must also finish 10 minutes prior to the half hour or hour.

4.2 Maximum continuous class time

4.2.1 Where possible, staff and students should not have to attend classes continuously for more than four (4) hours. This span of 4 hours can occur at any stage during 8am-10pm.

4.3 Scheduling of intensive classes and classes with irregular teaching patterns

4.3.1 Intensive course offerings and/or courses with irregular teaching patterns should, where possible, not be taught during standard University teaching weeks and/or standard University hours to maximise the utilisation of teaching space during the official academic semester.

4.3.2 Where possible, classes taught in irregular semester teaching weeks should be interchanged with another class at the same day, time and location, to maximise the utilisation of teaching space.

Custodians
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson
Custodians
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson