Hello... hello..? Yes, it's me. I'm still here...
Having hopefully recovered from the worst semester ever (I hope). It wasn't all bad, but a lot of it was, and it was all quite overwhelming, working evenings and far more hours than I should have done, leaving quite insufficient time, energy and will to blog - not to mention no time to do anything to blog about. How it happened... Well, it had been brewing for quite some time, but reality hit in October. When I first came to Sheffield two years ago it was to my dream job - running a degree in Social and Political Studies for part time, mature and 'non-traditional' students. People who had the ability but never got the chance to go to university when they left school. Ex miners, retired policeman, refugees, mothers... an infinite variety of ages, backgrounds and experiences. The part time degree took six years, time to get really involved and engaged with the students. Policy changes and increased fees however led to fewer people feeling able to take up such second chances. (I went to a conference in London where we were being told that the fall in recruitment of part time students was just because they didn't understand that they could get a loan for the full fees, and that some of them probably would never have to pay back a penny. My thought then was - and still is - have you ever tried selling a massive loan to a working class Yorkshireman?)
Anyway, the University's answer to this was to stop running part time degrees, and instead focus on a new one-year, full time Foundation Programme, to feed 'non-traditional' (albeit a completely different sort of non-traditional) students into full time degrees in the mainstream University. All of us who were running the old degree programmes had to apply for new roles on the new one, and only once these were confirmed, in September, could we take over development of the many new modules for which we were responsible. We also became responsible for managing a cohort of newly recruited tutors, and between us, had to start delivering the new programme at the beginning of October. As if that weren't enough, I'm still running my old programme, but in a quarter of the time it previously took. So I hope you will excuse me having been a bit too frazzled to blog for a few weeks.
Back to work tomorrow, and I'm hoping the worst is over. I hope at the very least that I will be able to find ten minutes of an evening to squeeze out a few words. If I don't, at least now you'll know why.