NON-parent friendly Uni !

(17 Posts)
MrsBright Wed 19-Feb-14 09:00:23

Does anyone else have this issue?

I am doing a PhD at a RG Uni. I also have a family, and live 20 miles from the Uni. I suspect many postgrads fit into this category - certainly more than this Uni assumes.

Yet, time and time again they schedule meetings, seminars, research training, events etc either precisely to impinge on school pick-up time, or in the evenings or in half-terms.

When will Universities wake up - and realise that WIDENING PARTICIPATION isnt just about getting people through the door!

Chrysanthemum5 Wed 19-Feb-14 09:06:23

I don't think they deliberately aim for school pick up, or half terms. They just won't register these times as an issue.

I do agree that with widening participation there is a need to consider the needs of your students. However, there is an expectation that students are available 9-5, and in academic terms/semesters as there would be in a work situation.

I work part-time in a RG university, and I do feel your pain. I'm constantly overlooked for interesting work as I'm not available at all times.

I would advise you to talk to your Graduate School, or academic adviser if you feel your PhD supervisor is not helpful. Explain the issue (you shouldn't have to, but that's the reality), and ask how the university can help you in this area.

sooperdooper Wed 19-Feb-14 09:08:35

Tbh if you have people who work part time then evenings are probably better for them, I don't think they're in any way targeting patents, it's simply that very few times will suit everyone

meditrina Wed 19-Feb-14 09:12:33

If widening participation includes those who are studying part-time round a job, then they are doing what they say.

Who are the others who are participants in these events, and what constraints do they have on their availability? If everyone is buggered up all the time, then it is not fair. But if they are timetabling round the majority, then what they are doing is sensible. But there could perhaps be a different balance in terms of spreading the inconvenience.

I just finished a phd at a RG uni and I don't quite agree with you. There is a whole range of people they have to consider -- some people work FT and can only do events at night, a lot of students work at night and can only do things in the day. Even more important are the logistics of doing things -- if you could only schedule meetings and events between 9 and 3 on weekdays, you would never have enough space or people to run them. You need as many hours as possible to schedule things in.

Academia just generally isn't very convenient for lots of people, but if you talk to people you can usually find a way to make it work for you.

MagratGarlik Wed 19-Feb-14 13:56:35

I used to be a staff member at a RG university which won an award for their equal opportunities. However, staff were still expected to be in for meetings starting at 8am, when the University nursery did not open until 8.30am, seminars started at 1pm, which meant if you were working part time with some half days you either missed the seminars (unthinkable, particularly as staff had to grade the post grad seminars), lab classes were routinely timetabled to finish at 6pm, the same time as the University nursery was due to close and lectures could be timetabled to start up until 6pm too.

Postgrads are expected to work similar hours to staff.

I don't have any solutions and can only sympathise, having been there, done it, but OTOH I've worked in other industries too and found most are fairly child-unfriendly. A big part of The problem at my old institution was that male colleagues almost all had stay at home wives, whilst female colleagues with children tended to put their heads down and not complain for fear of being perceived to be unable to cope and therefore being sidelined for promotion.

creamteas Wed 19-Feb-14 14:05:53

The reason so many things are scheduled for early evening/weekends etc is that it can be the only times people are not teaching.

In my dept, the teaching hours are 9-6 except wed which is 9-1. But although there is no teaching on Weds afternoons, these are usually booked up all year with various meetings.

Clearly timetabled stuff is not continuous, but the only times you can ensure a majority of people can attend is to have things outside of these times.

It is difficult for people with children, many of these events are optional. As a working parent I can assure you if they extended the teaching day till 8 to make space for these within school hours, it would be far worse.

PiratePanda Wed 19-Feb-14 15:46:44

Our department seminar, and every department seminar in every department I've ever been to, starts at 5PM, AND I have a 1.5 hr commute. It's just par for the course, and I have a standing arrangement that he picks up DC that evening every week. Academia is so flexible in other ways that it's not worth getting upset about.

PiratePanda Wed 19-Feb-14 15:47:28

He = DH. And I'm aware that some people in academia are single parents.

UptheChimney Thu 20-Feb-14 20:34:58

If you're studying full time then you're expected to be available. Academic staff are parents too, but work excessively long hours. We are pushed by university administrators (most of whom have very little idea what academics do, and would never survive in front of 200 First Years, frankly) to put undergraduates first, and we have to.

Like creamteas we teach UGs 9-6 -- although often till 7pm actually, and I meet with students from 8:30am if necessary.

Research postgrads are expected to be grown ups and do a lot of organisation of their own stuff. In my Department, our regular research seminar is 4-6pm, and we also run PG enrichment events at lunchtimes and mid-afternoons. Training is generally timetabled between 9:30 and 16:30. Wednesday afternoons - traditionally non-teaching, are filled with meetings, and seeing students.

UptheChimney Thu 20-Feb-14 20:36:05

And it's hardly the University's fault that you choose to live 20 miles away ...

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Thu 20-Feb-14 20:49:52

Did you really think you'd be able to do school pick ups of working or studying full time?

I think you'll need a childminder. You're lucky you don't need one full time.

MrsBright Fri 21-Feb-14 08:38:34

"Research postgrads are expected to be grown ups and do a lot of organisation of their own stuff."

Oh really? Gosh. I'd never have worked that out myself. Me being only 53 and all. I havn't just emerged from the egg.

SlowlorisIncognito Sun 23-Feb-14 18:07:24

I think university scheduling is very difficult- they are often limited by logistics, and they can't realistically fit everything into a 9-3 school day. Don't forget that many undergrads have evening jobs, so they can't realistically schedule all their undergrad stuff after 3pm to make room for the post-grads (and of course some undergraduates are parents too).

I think if you chose to comute (I say this as a commuting student) you just have to suck things up. Last year I was commuting by public transport, and all my summer exams were scheduled for 5pm-7pm, which was less than ideal, as my bus went to one an hour after 6pm.

As a full time student you are expected to be available full time. If needs be, you will have to arrange childcare, especially for half terms. At least you can cover school holidays yourself. The other option might be to see if a switch to part time study would make things more managable.

MagratGarlik Sun 23-Feb-14 21:17:43

Slow, postgraduates, like academic staff don't work to undergraduate terms. PhD students do not get Easter or summer off and holidays are usually booked by requesting time off, not by the fact that it is the end of term for undergrads.

Katkins1 Fri 28-Feb-14 22:50:17

I'm undergrad and as a Single Mum. I have a child minder. We have early starts (I leave at 7.30am some days), late nights (rehearsals sometimes finish at 11pm), weekends and late lectures.

I've been accepted on to an MA, and have applied for a PHD in a city 60 miles away. If I get in, I will relocate and find a child minder there. If there's a late,late seminar and no childcare I'll take (with tutor permission, as in the past) my DD. She's 6, so sits quietly. Never had an issue. I've done it in the past, will do again. I want to be a lecturer, that's why I'm doing it. Yes, it's tough, but it's also a choice. Work is just the same. It's hard, but you could consider p/t?

As I understand it, PHD study requires seminars but not every week. And you can be flexible with supervision. I'll be happy to go from 7.30am-6.30pm childcare to the odd night here and there to be honest.

I was thinking about this thread the other day, after a conversation with one of the proper academics teaching on the course I'm teaching. He was saying that it's so much easier supervising MA/PhD students because they will come in after 6, so his wife can do the childcare. Obviously he wasn't particularly talking about PhDs as parents (some of his PhDs are, though not me). But his comment made me think that perhaps this isn't intended in a purely negative way?

Forgive me if that's an ignorant comment.

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