Kingston University’s Vice Chancellor has voiced his support for a campaign that will give all students Wednesday afternoons off.
The Keep Wednesday Afternoons Free campaign aims to stop lectures and seminars after 12pm so that all undergraduate students can take part in sports and other extra-curricular activities.
“We are determined to make every effort to limit the amount of timetabled teaching on a Wednesday afternoon,” Spier told The River.
“Students should enjoy an enriching university experience which gives them the best possible education. A part of which is the opportunity to pursue other interests.”
“Initiatives like the Kingston Award, where students can achieve recognition for these kinds of activities, highlight this commitment.”
Kingston University does have a policy in place that is supposed to limit the amount of teaching time allocated after 12pm on a Wednesday afternoon.
However, the University has been accused of not honouring the policy, with complaints flooding in from students who are unable to attend extra-curricular events due to clashes.
The Union’s Representation Cordinator Steph Johnson said: “Unfortunately in recent years we have had more and more students complaining that they are torn between attending their lectures or other events.
“Students shouldn’t have to be torn between letting their team down and letting themselves down academically.”
In March a group of students tabled a motion at the Big Student Meeting (BSM), requesting the Students’ Union get the university to honour its policy, and the Union had hoped that personal letters to the vice chancellor would help persuade them.
“The motion was passed by the wide majority of students and since then the SU has been campaigning on the issue.”
“We have been asking students to fill out a postcard telling us what they would do on their free Wednesday Afternoon,” Johnson said.
“Whilst a lot of the responses are related to sports, societies and union activity, a lot of them have also been following a theme of well-being and mention things like the school run, checking in with emotions and life admin.”
Throughout the UK universities keep Wednesday afternoons free for sports fixtures and other societies.
British Universities and College’s Sport (BUCS) have long held their sports fixtures on a Wednesday afternoon.
BUCS organise the fixtures for 53 sports across the country, and although Kingston do not offer all of them they are all played on Wednesdays, meaning many students are at risk of missing out.
Not all about lectures
“University isn’t all about academia,” Johnson said.
“Students have three years to get involved with extracurricular activities. After that they are likely to be employed in a nine-to-five job without the option to experience the wide variety of activities and events on offer during their time at university.
“If they had that time available then they would get to excel in a worthwhile hobby, meet students they wouldn’t know otherwise, network with students from other universities, and give Kingston a great name in the University sporting world.”
But even with Vice Chancellor Spier’s endorsement, the reality of freeing Wednesday afternoons for all undergraduate students may still prove tricky to achieve.
“A rigid policy of keeping Wednesday afternoons free of teaching could have a serious impact on the rest of the timetable, potentially leading to more early starts, late finishes and long blocks of teaching for students,” Spier said.
“However, we are working with the Union of Kingston Students to see if there are further things we can do to make sure that all of our students benefit from a timetable that allows them to get the best out of their studies and the wider opportunities on offer at the University.”