The title to this piece may seem a little strong, but with both the University and future employees encouraging us to participate in extra-curricular activities to develop vital transferable skills for our careers, is the University really doing enough to put the interests of the students first by scheduling classes on a Wednesday? Wednesday is a day nationally recognised as BUCS day, where universities throughout the country gear up to compete against each other to be the best, with supporters and competitors each showing individual pride for their university.
I asked the captains of several sports team of their opinion on this matter, and I would like to thank them for their honest and frank views. The unanimous view was that something has to change. LUSU has made a real effort in funding sports in recent years, which is fantastic, but with the University scheduling vital classes on days where members of the sports team have to travel to away games, such funding could potentially go to waste. The result of doing this is that we will never be able to compete with the top universities and students have to miss important games due to academic commitments.
Whilst I’ve been at Lancaster, I’ve only ever had one class on a Wednesday scheduled at 9am, and by the sounds of it I have been very fortunate. In some scenarios, students have compulsory classes scheduled. In fact, one of the first team captains I questioned has a two-hour lecture 11-1 every Wednesday, which is the only lecture for that module, meaning that when he has to play away, he has to miss the lecture as he feels he cannot miss the game to avoid letting down the University or his team. When LUSU is providing the funding for teams to be successful in the BUCS leagues and compete in the higher leagues, the time taken to reach away games increases, but yet there are still timetabling issues.
The University has been actively seeking for the sports teams to be competing at the highest level, hence the injection of funding in sports, which we have benefited from – a new sports centre, a 3G pitch, and even more activities to participate in. The Vice-Chancellor of the University gave a talk to all BUCS teams at the start of the year, discussing how Lancaster was now a top 10 university in education and the next step would be a top 10 university in sports as well. But with classes scheduled on a Wednesday, we are really shooting ourselves in the foot as this is holding back the potential of all our sports teams.
Other universities have managed to avoid having classes on Wednesday for their advantage. In some extreme cases, players can’t even commit to signing on to play for the year, as they can’t change their academic commitments. This is not an isolated incident; it is a serious problem, one which happens on a weekly occurrence. The University is giving out mixed messages, so action needs to be taken. Why can’t we follow the same formula as the majority of universities across the country, and give our teams an equal playing field?
Something needs to change; we are a proud university with great ambition, so let us fulfil our potential by being the best we can be without the added stress of missing classes or teams struggling to field full teams on match day. I hope elected members of LUSU read this article so that further lobbying can be implemented on this issue, as it needs to be resolved. As elected individuals, these are the problems you need to address to the University.
LUSU, your move.