On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, the University of Manitoba Senate approved a new academic schedule that features a number of significant improvements, including a week long Fall Term Break, an extended Winter Break, and equalized Fall and Winter Terms.

“A full Fall Reading Week will help students out during the midst of exams when many are feeling high stress on campus,” says UMSU President Tanjit Nagra. “We heard feedback from students after advocating for the initial Fall Break, and we’re very excited to see the recommended changes being implemented.”

For years, UMSU and its members have vocalized and pushed the importance of addressing high levels of student stress reported during Fall Term. As a result, the 2-day Fall Term Break prior to Thanksgiving weekend was implemented in 2016. Subsequently, a Review Committee comprised of faculty, staff, and student representatives from across campus – including UMSU – was created to determine the most efficient academic term duration and schedule, as the 2-day break interrupted lab schedules for some faculties and did not function as intended.

Initial discussions by the Review Committee were followed by a request for survey feedback from the university community in April 2017; 638 student responses and 105 staff responses indicated an overwhelming desire for amendments to the current schedule. With this knowledge, UMSU entered negotiations with the intention of advocating for an academic schedule beneficial to students in all faculties.

To provide an opportunity for students to better alleviate stress, connect with family, escape from studies for a short period, or prepare for exams and course papers, the Committee recommended that Fall and Winter Terms are equalized. Both Terms will consist of 62 teaching days. Further, a 4-day Fall Break will be established that coincides with the observance of Remembrance Day, allowing students a week long break each Term. The Voluntary Withdrawal deadline will always fall after Term Break for both terms to give ample time for students to make a decision. Further, Fall Term will start one day earlier, with one day of new student Orientation the day after Labour Day and classes beginning the following day.

UMSU and the U of M faculty agreed a later start to the Winter Term, which extends the Winter Break to the Monday after the university re-opens, will allow students to get their Fall Term marks back earlier into the start of the term and give professors more sufficient time for grading. Further, a modified revision period will see the deadline for adding classes extended one day after the deadline for dropping classes. Although the deadline to drop classes will stay the same, the extra day to add classes gives students more time to see where class spaces have opened up for them to register.

UMSU is proud that as a result of student advocacy, the new academic schedule will be advantageous to students across campus faculties. As academic success can only come after mental and physical wellbeing, the changes will allow students to focus more on their studies, maintain their health, and relieve stress associated with Term scheduling and deadlines. Due to the substantial benefits of the new Fall and Winter Term structures, the Review Committee has observed the review should be extended to discuss the dates and structure of Summer Session. It is hoped the Committee will reconvene or be reconstituted to address scheduling issues related to summer courses in the near future, including Distance and Online courses.

If any UMSU members have questions about the new academic schedule, please contact UMSU Vice President Advocacy, Allison Kilgour, by emailing vpa@umsu.ca, calling 204-474-6524, or stopping by the UMSU Office at 101 UMSU University Centre.

For media inquiries, please contact UMSU President Tanjit Nagra by emailing pres@umsu.ca or calling 204-474-6519.