Second-year English students have claimed victory after faculty bosses changed course on a plan to restrict choice over one of their finals papers.
Last week students were told they would be “randomly allocated” to a “Special Option” for one of the papers, and students at Christ Church created a Facebook group called “The Grapes of Wrath” less than 24 hours later.
It aimed to unite those “in a rage about the random allocation of modules for our finals.” Students urged fellow members from all colleges to petition the Faculty.
Only two days after this group was formed, members expressed satisfaction at the news that the Faculty would revoke the random allocation of topics, allowing students to rank their options.
The initial email from the Faculty stated that students must “complete a short form to indicate the 5 options that you feel you would most enjoy studying (these will not be ranked), and you will then be randomly allocated to one of the options that you are interested in.”
Sonia Morland, a second-year English student at St John’s, stated, “I’m really glad that they’ve listened to our comments and are now giving us a bit more choice. However, ideally we’d have even more choice (e.g. ranking 3 rather than 5 options).”
The Facebook protest group quickly grew in popularity. At the time of publication it has 164 members. Founding students rallied their “fellow grapes” to help reform “this educational crack den of corruption.”
Students notified the group that Subject and Senior Tutors from seven separate colleges, including New and St Peter’s, had listened to their discontent and filed complaints.
The second email from the English Faculty stated that, as a result of student and tutor feedback, they plan to “amend the sign-up system for this year. You will now be able to rank your choices in order of preference from 1-5.”
Katie-Rose Comery, another second-year English student at St John’s, commented, “I’m very happy that the Faculty have agreed to rank our options as we suggested, and that they responded to us so quickly.”
“Both the speed and ease with which they acquiesced suggests that it wasn’t particularly difficult for them to do, so I don’t see why they can’t have done it in the first place,” she added.
Shelby Holmes, a second-year English student at Trinity said that she was “delighted with the Faculty’s speedy response and their genuine aim to make the course better for the students.”
“Admittedly this isn’t the first time they’ve cocked thing up a bit, as last year’s email containing the coursework questions was actually missing a page, and so students’ work was delayed until the problem was rectified. Despite this I do feel that the faculty try their best, and hopefully such minor problems won’t continue,” she said.
Students are divided as to whether the new course, which contains fewer papers, means a reduction in teaching hours.
Morland stated that it was “hard to compare but it does sound like we’ll be getting pretty little teaching. I guess that’s just an arts degree for you though – I think by 3rd year we are capable of going off and doing a fair bit on our own.”
The English Faculty did not respond to a request for comment.