Trouble in Paradise

UPDATE 15/10/14: The administration staff have sorted this out for me now. It only took an angry email and an angry blog post!


I’m pretty frustrated with University at the moment. After writing with such enthusiasm about the opportunities that the University of Southampton has offered me, I feel irritated that I have to write in such a negative way about the events that have followed my initial praise of the University.

“It appears that this is not an option…”

After seeking and receiving the blessing of my course coordinator to switch the Aerothermodynamics module, that I had already taken way back in second year, to German. I followed the procedure for switching modules, got the form in on time, and then received an email from the faculty office which said that this was not an option.

I find it amazing that, having done all the leg work: making sure the credits would be the same, making sure I could attend the German lectures, seeking the permission of both my course coordinator and my German teacher and purchasing the required textbooks; I am told that “computer says no”!

This was not an issue when I pointed out some months ago that, given the options being presented to me by the computer system, I would not be able to do a Management module (a mandatory requirement for accreditation by the RAeS). It also annoys me that I apparently am being forced into re-learning material that I have already learned and used in my University work AND out in the real world during my summer placement job!

What to do now?

I don’t know.

I replied to the email from the faculty office the same day that I received it, explaining that the options in the program catalogue were not a representation of what I could actually take! I also pointed out that many of my cohort are taking optional language modules without any issue.

In previous correspondence, the issue of it not being an option for me had been discussed and no-one saw a problem until now.

I am still awaiting a reply from the faculty. It seems incredible to me that, after talking to people and getting the agreement of those in places of authority to help me, it comes down to a computer “not allowing” the change.

At a University that claims to support “a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.” (taken from the UoS website: it comes as a bit of a shock that when a student points out a flaw in their system and asks to be challenged academically, that they are denied that opportunity to further themselves.

What have I learned?

I think in general, though I knew this already, I’ve learned that my faculty is incapable of dealing with exchange students. None of my cohort who stayed in Southampton throughout their third year have had this issue of module madness.

More fundamentally I’ve learned that, no matter how hard you work to get people in positions of influence on your side, you can always be undone by a computer saying no!

And finally, I’ve had it confirmed by my own experience that taking modules that you actually want to take is easier abroad! When I was in Sweden, I took an extra Swedish language module. Guess what: no dramas! I now have a qualification in Swedish that would have been impossible if the same bureaucratic system had been in place.

All I want to do is gain more broadness in my education. This is not going to be achieved by going over old material and, since I’m going to be in considerable debt as a result of this degree thing I’m doing, I’d like to get the most out of it!


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