We had a departmental away day up at the University Women's club in Mayfair to talk through some of the challenges and opportunities coming up as the institution as a whole responds to the huge shifts going on in the HE sector. It was terribly refined and a wonderful place to hang out for an afternoon. An oasis of heavy sofas, towering bookshelves and views towards Hyde Park.
St Mary's itself has decided to reform the modular system and students from 2013 will be expected to take 6 x 20 credit modules each year rather than the current 8 x 15. Opinions within the University are mixed, but Drama lecturers seem broadly supportive. It certainly makes project work easier and enables students to focus on their performance work, without quite as many distractions. It gives each module slightly more weight, clout and, most importantly, contact hours. We're pioneering the scheme and have agreed to re validate for 2012 - a year ahead of most of other subject areas. We see it as a real opportunity to reshape our offer to meet the new demands that students paying £8,000 a year will undoubtedly make.
There are some other interesting developments afoot. We hope to move towards electronic marking, which a couple of English colleagues have trialed with great success. The downside is that you need a computer to mark with and until the software is tablet compatible it means no more taking a pile of essays to a coffee shop. But the joy at being able to return work at the click of a mouse rather than have it sit unclaimed in our offices is persuasive enough.
We also have a new administrator Jessica, who joined today, replacing Sue who left in the Summer. Her background is in Stage Management - mostly impressively with the Berliner Ensemble. She's going to be a real asset to Drama St Mary's.