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Timetabling Procedures

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) The purpose of these procedures is to outline the process for the annual preparation of the University timetable.

(2) These procedures are to be read in conjunction with relevant University policies, including the Timetabling Policy, Space Policy and Space Allocation Guidelines.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(3) Words used in these procedures have the same meaning as in the Timetabling Policy.

(4) The following additional definitions apply for the purpose of these procedures:

  1. Casual Room Bookings - are ad-hoc bookings made by staff, students or external organisations for meetings, seminars, teaching activities for non-award courses, conferences, orientation activities and any other activities that are not incorporated in the University timetable.
  2. Director, Academic Program - is the academic program leadership role which includes the Director, Academic Program for online courses, also known as the eDAP.
  3. Session - is a period of time when the content of a unit is delivered and the assessment is completed.
  4. Space Usage Agreement - is a general term to describe sections of a contract, tenancy agreement, Memorandum of Understanding or similar document that stipulates the conditions whereby an entity is assigned use or control of University space. A space usage agreement must cover all privileges and costs associated with the space assignment, including identification of dedicated and common spaces involved, terms of agreement, responsibility for maintenance, etc.
  5. Timetabling Constraint Template - is a document prepared annually by Timetabling, in consultation with each School to define the generic staff constraint profile for that School.
  6. Unit Coordinator - is the academic leadership role responsible for academic administration of the unit and students enrolled in that unit.
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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(5) The Timetabling Policy applies.

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Section 4 - Procedures

(6) The timetable from one year is not rolled forward to the next year. Instead the University timetable is prepared annually using parameters defined within the Corporate Central Timetabling System. In June of each year, the Timetabling Team will issue to the Schools a timeline outlining timetabling data preparation requirements and due dates. Data to inform the following year's timetable will be collected in accordance with the advertised timelines.

(7) When preparing the timetable:

  1. priority will be given to units which are components of University award courses offered during teaching sessions described in the published University academic datelines;
  2. non-award units or those offered outside of normal teaching session timelines will be accommodated if resources permit unless their needs have been incorporated into a prior written Space Usage Agreement;
  3. automatically scheduled activities will be grouped into priority groups for scheduling - the priority groups are formed based on criteria that determine the degree of difficulty involved in scheduling an activity. Activities with the greatest degree of difficulty are scheduled first; and
  4. conflicts will be managed in accordance with the Resolution of Timetabling Conflicts procedure.

(8) Consistent with anti-discrimination laws and University policy, when preparing the timetable consideration will also be given to staff and students with special requirements related to:

  1. disabilities;
  2. religious beliefs; and
  3. carer's responsibilities.

(9) Staff and students may seek advice from officers of the Equity and Diversity Unit, the Counselling Service or the Disability Service with regard to the provision of reasonable accommodation on the grounds outlined in the preceding clause.

Part A - Data Collection

Base Data

(10) The following information will be used as base data for the preparation of the new timetable and must be ready within the scheduled timeline.

Finalisation of Course and Unit Offerings

(11) Courses and units being offered in the forthcoming academic year must be finalised before timetables can be prepared. Schools must finalise their course and unit offerings for the forthcoming academic year in accordance with University's Course and Units Approval processes so that all data can be updated on the University's Student Management System (SMS) in accordance with the advertised timelines.

Roll-Over Timetable Data

(12) Only base data from the previous year's teaching activities will be rolled over in April/May to provide a foundation for the following year's timetable. The previous year's schedule will not be included in this data.

Validation of Initial Base Data

(13) Finalised Course and Unit Offerings (contained in the SMS) are compared with Roll-Over Timetable Base Data to ensure consistency. Where discrepancies are identified, amendments are made to the Corporate Central Timetabling System to ensure it accurately reflects the offerings contained in the SMS. Only Course and Unit Offerings that are on the SMS for the year in question will be timetabled on the Corporate Central Timetabling System.

(14) The validated base data is then made available to Schools for further clarification and data collection for the coming year's timetable.

Data Collection

(15) The Schools are responsible for reviewing the base data and providing (via the web) further clarification in regard to related operational parameters, including:

  1. Courses (clash avoidance)
  2. Units (delivery structure, location requirements, variations to teaching week pattern)
  3. Staffing (allocation to units).

(16) Additional information related to staffing availability is also to be provided by the Dean or Deputy Dean of the School (or their delegate) during an annual meeting (usually prior to data collection) with the relevant Timetabling Officer. This information is essentially the generic constraint profile for full-time staff in the School.

(17) The Dean or Deputy Dean or their delegate must also approve any exceptions to the generic constraint profile and notify the relevant Timetabling Officer.

(18) To facilitate consideration of the requirements outlined in this section, all relevant information and requirements must be provided within the timeline for collection and preparation of timetable data as issued by the Timetabling Team.

Part B - Draft Timetable Preparation

Manual Scheduling

(19) Bookings for the forthcoming year for the following activities will be confirmed:

  1. Centrally coordinated standard examinations;
  2. Centrally coordinated deferred examinations;
  3. graduation ceremonies; and
  4. block bookings for maintenance.

Automated Scheduling

(20) Once manual scheduling is complete and the Timetabling Team is satisfied that other system or operational requirements have been fulfilled, the Timetabling Team performs an automated scheduling process based on the parameters collected during the data collection period. In line with the established priorities, this process results in the generation of a draft timetable.

Display of Draft Timetable

(21) The results of the scheduling process are displayed to allow for modifications and adjustments. Appropriate School staff should check the draft timetable thoroughly and provide feedback to the Timetabling Team well in advance to allow time for any changes to be implemented before the official publication dates.

Resolution of Timetabling Conflicts

(22) In the event that a conflict arises, the parties involved are expected to attempt to resolve the conflict with a view to achieving the University's objectives. In attempting to resolve the conflict the parties should consider the following factors:

  1. the extent to which the alteration of existing arrangements will impact on other staff and students;
  2. access for students with disabilities takes precedence over other considerations, unless this causes unjustifiable hardship.
  3. that a degree of sharing/turn-taking is considered;
  4. the importance of the activity to the University;
  5. the rationale for requiring a specific location;
  6. the rationale for requiring a specific time;
  7. the availability/unavailability of alternative teaching space/time;
  8. specialist teaching spaces shall only be used for designated purposes (e.g. science and computer laboratories);
  9. activities requiring specialised teaching facilities (e.g. media equipped lecture theatres) have priority over those requiring standard facilities;
  10. requests made prior to the publication of the timetable will be given priority over those made after publication;
  11. larger classes have priority over smaller classes;
  12. activities which occupy large blocks of time have priority over those which occupy small blocks of time; and

(23) In case of equipment failure, or other circumstances preventing use of a room, staff should contact the Timetabling Team so they may provide advice of an alternative suitable room to avoid moving to a room which is already scheduled for another class/booking.

(24) Conflicts that cannot be resolved by reviewing the conflict in consideration of the above factors will be mediated/arbitrated by the Chief Student Experience Officer or delegate. The decision of the Chief Student Experience Officer or delegate will be final.

Part C - Publication of Timetables and Timetable Changes

Official Timetable Publication

(25) The timetables for all teaching sessions will be published according to advertised dates. While the University endeavours to limit changes to its official timetables these may occur in accordance with the provisions for timetable changes detailed later in this document.

(26) The University timetable is published on the official University web pages only.

Timetable Changes

(27) When making timetable changes it is important to consider the effect on students and staff. Where changes occur with little notice, Schools must advise all affected students. If rooms are changed, the School must arrange to put appropriate signs on the old location to direct students to the new location.

(28) Students plan their forthcoming academic program based on knowledge of their timetable, (i.e. campus, day, time and location of teaching activities in their units). Consequently, changes to the published timetable will be kept to a minimum. It is the responsibility of Schools to ensure that information used to prepare the University timetable is accurate, and subsequent changes are only made for valid reasons. Valid reasons for changes include:

  1. unexpected enrolment variation;
  2. unexpected staff turnover;
  3. a location is a health or safety hazard;
  4. a unit is no longer deemed viable; and
  5. reasonable adjustments to accommodate students with special needs.

(29) Requests to change a unit after official publication will be accepted from unit coordinators or Directors of Academic Programs, subject to the following provisions.

Timetabling Changes due to classes falling on public holidays

(30) If scheduled teaching falls on a public holiday, the Timetabling Officer will liaise with the Unit Coordinator to schedule a make-up class on an alternative day, if required.

Timetable Changes Affecting Scheduled Days, Time or Campus

(31) Changes affecting days, times or campus are highly discouraged and must be well justified.

(32) For changes that affect scheduled days, time or campus and that most directly affect students' planning and unit/course choices:

  1. a request for timetable change should be submitted to the Timetabling Team;
  2. the Timetabling Officer should check availability and potential for change on the Corporate Central Timetabling System and advise if all or part of the request is possible. This advice will include listing all programs that are linked to the unit for clash avoidance. The person requesting a change must consult with the Directors of Academic Programs of the affected programs to ensure there are no adverse impacts on any program;
  3. email approval is to be received by the Timetabling Officer from the Dean of the School owning the unit (or their delegate), before the change is actioned;
  4. the Timetabling Team will collect statistics on changes made to identify problem areas and a report will be provided to the Deans, Deputy Deans, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning Transformations and the Chief Student Experience Officer;
  5. where there is doubt in regard to whether a request for a change is justified, the Timetabling Coordinator will be consulted.

Timetable Changes Not Affecting Scheduled Days, Times or Campus

(33) Changes that do not affect scheduled days, time or campus can be carried out by the Timetabling Officer. Examples of changes that fall within this category include:

  1. a change of staff allocated to an activity;
  2. a change of location providing it is the same campus;
  3. the deletion of booked space no longer required; and
  4. the addition of a repeated activity, justified by enrolment numbers.

Publication of Official Timetabling Changes

(34) Once approved and actioned, official timetabling changes will be updated on the official web page by the Timetabling Team.

Part D - Timetable Usage Monitoring and Review

(35) Once a timetable has been established and bookings confirmed, staff and students are expected to use facilities in accordance with the official timetable. This means that all classes should be conducted within the scheduled times. Where necessary, every effort should be made to ensure teaching locations are vacated ten minutes prior to the start of the next class to facilitate student movement.

(36) Students may leave the venue in that last ten minutes and will not be penalised, even if they leave prior to conclusion of the teaching.

(37) Where classes use a room without a booking they may be asked to leave. Where more than one party presents to use a room at the same time, the party that is booked on the Corporate Central Timetabling System will be granted use of the room.

(38) Timetable data and actual usage of facilities will be subject to periodical evaluation, therefore all parties should take care to ensure that the information supplied and requirements are consistent and up-to-date. Particular attention will be given to ensuring that timetabled space is required and has been used in accordance with stipulated booking requirements.

(39) Those who do not use requested timetabled space may be subject to penalties as determined by the Vice-President, People and Advancement.

Part E - Casual Room Booking

(40) Individuals or groups seeking to make a casual room booking should refer to the Space Policy, being aware that casual room bookings in a teaching area during main teaching sessions cannot be confirmed until:

  1. the beginning of week three of each session, irrespective of how far in advance the casual booking was made; or
  2. two working days before the booking, if the booking falls within the first two weeks of any session, irrespective of how far in advance the booking was made.

(41) This process must be maintained to ensure consistency with the University's position regarding priority being given to core teaching activities.

Part F - Teaching Space Maintenance Reporting

(42) The Office of Estate and Commercial sends notification to the Timetabling Coordinator, with as much notice as possible, of any unavailability of teaching spaces. This notification will include:

  1. the location/s affected
  2. the dates/times affected
  3. the reason for the unavailability
  4. advice of any safety issues
  5. the details of a contact person from within the Office of Estate and Commercial

(43) The Timetabling Coordinator performs an analysis of the impact of the unavailability for the Courses and Timetabling Manager. Based on this analysis, one of the following courses of action will be followed:

  1. Where the impact is minimal and it is feasible to address the unavailability by rescheduling etc., the space will be booked on behalf of OEC and consultation will occur with all affected parties. Notification will be provided to OEC contact person that the scheduling has been cleared as requested; or
  2. Where the impact appears to be considerable, with rescheduling not feasible and with many students and staff members being affected, an impact analysis report will be sent back to the Office of Estate and Commercial contact person for further consideration and to the Senior Manager, Student Operations for information. This consideration may involve revised timelines for the work required or, particularly where there are safety considerations and the work is deemed urgent, consultation with affected parties to consider other means of addressing the unavailability, e.g. cancellation of classes/bookings etc. In such a case, OEC staff, Courses and Timetabling staff and other affected parties will negotiate a workable solution or reconsideration and all will be advised of the outcome.
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Section 5 - Guidelines

Timetabled Space Categories

(44) The Timetabling Team will maintain a database containing all the spaces the University has designated for use in teaching, meetings and conferences. Overall responsibility for the scheduling of these spaces is vested in the Courses and Timetabling Manager. This database will include and identify appropriately the following categories.

Common Teaching Spaces

(45) Common Teaching Spaces are defined as general, non-specialised areas used for teaching and other related activities by the academic community at large. Typical examples are lecture theatres, lecture rooms, tutorial/seminar rooms and the computing and information technology laboratories supported by Information Technology and Digital Services.

Specialised Teaching Spaces

(46) Specialised Teaching Spaces are designated as teaching areas which provide specialist teaching facilities for use by the academic community at large. They are not suitable for lectures, tutorials or general teaching functions.

(47) Control of such areas is vested in a specified School or research institute but their use is allocated via the Corporate Central Timetabling System. The controlling academic unit will have first preference in the allocation of these facilities.

(48) Such spaces are typically configured and equipped for teaching a particular discipline or area at first or possibly second year undergraduate level and are supported by specialised technical staff. They are however available to all students and staff wishing to acquire or impart the particular knowledge and skills associated with the specialised functions of the space. Typical examples are undergraduate first year science and computing laboratories or introductory music studios. The costs of providing these facilities for students not enrolled in the controlling unit will be subject to inter-unit agreements.

Restricted Specialised Teaching Spaces

(49) Restricted Specialised Teaching Spaces are areas intended for highly specialised use. Such areas are normally developed by specific Schools or research institutes and will be controlled by these units. The use of these areas will be scheduled via the Corporate Central Timetabling System and they are available to the academic community only at the discretion of the controlling unit. Typical examples are design studios, specialised computer laboratories, language laboratories and so on.

(50) Specialised technical support is required. Characteristically such facilities will be configured or equipped in such a manner that students without previous background in the area or non-specialised teaching staff would be at risk working within this space and may compromise the effective operation of its facilities.

(51) The costs of providing these facilities for students not enrolled in the controlling School will be subject to inter-school agreements.

Meeting/Conference Spaces

(52) Meeting/Conference Spaces are bookable areas which support both academic and administrative activities. The scheduling of these facilities will be via the Corporate Central Timetabling System. Other meeting spaces designated as either locally bookable or for specialised use only will be available via the academic or administrative unit best located to monitor and provide access to the facility.