Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that does not appear here, but might be of interest, please email: Timetabling.Office@utas.edu.au

The majority of the following FAQs relate to the factors, or “constraints” that can be applied in developing the timetable. Although a wide range of constraints can be considered by the system in developing the timetable it is important to note that the more constraints that are applied, the more difficult it will be for the system to schedule teaching activities.

Who will be responsible for producing the University timetable? Production of the University timetable will be centralised and managed by a University Timetable Officer. This marks a shift away from our current approach, where individual School timetables are produced by the School Timetable Officer. Publication of a final student timetable will be the responsibility of the Timetable Officer with input from School Timetable Officers.
Why is the responsibility for scheduling being centralised?

Centralising the process allows the University to produce an institution-wide timetable (as opposed to a series of local timetables), and thus assists in meeting key timetabling objectives for maximisation of:

  • student focussed timetable – common enrolment patterns, both within and across Faculties will be identified. Centralising the timetabling function will allow us to minimise timetable clashes in these common enrolment patterns;
  • space utilisation – centralisation of teaching space information will provide us with the opportunity to make more efficient use of space and ensure that teaching activities are scheduled in spaces which fit the resource needs and size of the particular class.
If scheduling is carried out centrally, what will School Timetabling Officers be responsible for?

As a result of central scheduling, School Timetable Officers will be required to focus on timetable data collection and verification. This means that School Timetable Officers will be primarily responsible for entering data relating to:

  • teaching staff availability;
  • suitabilities and constraints to be applied – such as resources required for particular teaching activities, maximum class sizes, locations (and location-associated constraints such as travel times);
  • review of draft timetables produced by the Timetable Office,
It is recognised that there is a significant amount of work associated with gathering data, especially in the initial years of implementation of Syllabus Plus. In 2011 and beyond, it is envisaged that the time spent on timetabling will diminish, as tasks will focus on checking data, and reviewing draft timetables before their publication.
Can the system make sure classes take place in a venue that has specific resource required? Yes. The system holds information relating to the resources available in each teaching space. The system also holds information relating to the resources required in relation to each teaching activity. When the scheduling is carried out, the system will perform a check of teaching spaces with the required resources against what resources are required for that particular activity. Also, if time travel needs to be factored in, the system can record this requirement against the teaching activities concerned. The system will then ensure there is sufficient time between the classes to allow for travel.
Teaching activities can be scheduled between 8am - 6pm. Is it possible to apply some flexibility to this range of hours? Yes. The Guidelines allow for classes to start or finish outside this span of hours, with approval from Heads of Schools. It can be arranged that times may act as shoulder periods (e.g. at the beginning and/or end of the day). Under this arrangement, the unit's teaching activities would be scheduled within the core span of hours wherever possible.
Can a staff member's availability to teach be considered in developing the timetable? Yes. Availability can be recorded against a particular staff member and this can be used by the new timetabling system in developing the schedule. Staff unavailability must be approved by the appropriate Head of School before it can be used in the scheduling process. Classes can be scheduled without staff details if unknown at the time of timetable publication.
Can School arrangements be considered in scheduling the timetable? Yes. The system allows for school activities, such as regularly scheduled staff/research meetings, to be accommodated in scheduling the timetable, but not to the detriment of teaching activities.
How can teaching activities be scheduled when enrolment numbers are yet to be finalised? Although final enrolment numbers cannot be known at the time the timetable is produced, the new timetable system will allow use of the previous year's enrolment figures (or trend data from a number of years) to inform the number and size of teaching activities.
Can the timetable be changed once it’s published?

Yes, but only within the parameters of the Timetable Policy and Procedure. Changes may be made by:

  • Timetable Officer – only for activities requiring to be added or deleted, or locations changed, due to changes in enrolment numbers.
  • Head of School authorisation – such as changes to unit availability (e.g. cancellation of a unit) or the way in which units are delivered, or changes to the staff responsible for teaching activities.
Particular units do not run within standard semesters. Can the system accommodate this? Yes. The new system offers the flexibility to apply different teaching periods to different units and cohorts. A timetable for each of the five semesters will be published.
Can the system make sure that certain units don’t clash with others Yes. It is possible to specify at an individual unit level that the unit does not clash with other defined unit(s). This can apply to units within individual Faculties, and across Faculties. This will be useful in terms of minimising timetable clashes for students enrolled in common enrolment patterns, especially in combined degrees. Student sets have been requested from Schools and uploaded into the system. Schools will be asked to review this data on a yearly basis.
Some units are taught through streams (e.g. students attending a particular tutorial must attend the corresponding practical class; or different tutorials are linked to different disciplines within the same unit). Can this be accommodated in the system? Yes. The new system allows student sets to be defined (i.e. student cohorts expected to progress through their learning program by taking a defined path of tuition). Student set data can be used to ensure appropriate scheduling of classes based on streams. It is recognised that some areas use this teaching approach and the Timetable Office will work closely to understand these requirements and identify the best ways to accommodate them within the new system.
Can the new system deal with intensive/block teaching arrangements? Yes. The new system offers the flexibility to schedule intensive or block teaching arrangements. It is recognised that some areas use this teaching approach and assistance will be offered to identify the best way to accommodate them within the new system.
Can I choose to see the timetable for our School only? Yes. A School-based timetable is one of the standard reports the system can generate.
If teaching space is to be centralised, is it likely that teaching activities will be scheduled in a space remote from School buildings (e.g. at the opposite end of the campus)? No. It is unlikely that teaching activities will be scheduled in a space remote from School buildings. The new timetabling system can ensure that teaching activities take place in particular zones. Zones can be defined in a number of ways (e.g. at campus, or individual building, level).
If teaching space is to be centralised, who will be responsible for recurrent maintenance costs? The answer to this question is unknown at this time. This issue has been identified and will need to be considered by the University Planning and Resources Committee and senior management.
Where can I find more information regarding the timetabling software? See: Timetable Guidelines for manuals and to assist with terminology.