Last Week of Term

So the glorious weather continues. Unfortunately, unlike most UK universities, we’re not finished for Easter yet; at Cardiff University we only get three weeks for the Easter recess instead of the four that colleagues over the border seem to enjoy.

One of the consequences of this is that the annual National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) often falls in Cardiff term time. This year NAM is taking place in the fine city of Manchester (which, for those of you unfamiliar with British geography, is in the Midlands). Many colleagues in the School of Physics & Astronomy are attending NAM, and most of my research group are either there already or travelling up today. I particularly wish Jo and Ian well when they give their talks; one of the excellent things about NAM is the opportunity it offers for younger researchers to talk about their work to a large audience. Nerve-wracking, no doubt, but invaluable experience.

I’m not going to NAM this year because I have too much to do back here at the ranch, including filling in a few lectures for staff who are away.  I’m always reluctant to cancel lectures during term-time, but in the current spell of good weather I doubt if any students would complain too much! I did a cosmology lecture this morning – only the second I’ve done here – and it the room was uncomfortably stuffy. A few of the students failed to fall asleep, however, so I regard that as a major success.

It’s strange how often good weather coincides with times of great stress for students. I recall that most of my undergraduate examinations took place in glorious sunshine, which seemed to have been laid on by some malevolent being to make us suffer. This week our students have project reports and presentations to worry about and other coursework to finish before term ends, as well as revision for the exams that take place in May; being couped up inside is no fun on days like this and I’m sure they’d prefer it to be raining outside so as not to distract them from the tasks in hand…

It’s so quiet around here today that it occurred to me now would be a good time to stage a Coup d’Etat. Come to thank of it, there’s a Staff Meeting  been called on Wednesday which may well amount to something pretty similar…

Anyway, those of us around today have a nice event this evening to look forward to, a lecture by Lord Rees followed by a nice dinner in Aberdare Hall. Here’s the invitation:

You’ll see that this is organized “in association with The Learned Society for Wales“, which I only just learned about when I saw it on the invitation!

Anyway, the prospect of a slap-up dinner persuaded me to just have a sandwich for lunch. Now that’s eaten methinks I’ll get back to work!

UPDATE: It was indeed a very interesting and entertaining lecture by Lord Rees; here he is, in action, watched by Prof. Disney…

4 Responses to “Last Week of Term”

  1. stringph Says:

    Ah, what will it take to kill the ill-begotten semester system?

    This is one thing that should never have changed, because once changed it is impossible to change back without admitting that a mistake was made.

    A future solution is only politically feasible if someone finds yet another scheme for organizing term dates. Perhaps if you put forward the idea that there should be 3 terms with lengths 9, 8 and 7 weeks respectively it would appear sufficiently new…

    • telescoper Says:

      Actually I think the semester system is fine.

      The problem is that we insist on forcing it to cope with a moveable Easter holiday. The first semester is fine because the date of Christmas is fixed. Easter has the annoying habit of moving about. Last year we got the whole of Semester 2 in before Easter, this year we have 9 weeks, then a 3 week break, then another two.

      The problem is Easter. Ironically, in America ,where the Christian lobby is even stronger than here, they don’t have this problem. Easter Sunday is observed, but there are no statutory holidays on Good Friday and Easter Monday and Semester 2 continues until May without disturbance.

      I vote we scrap the Easter vacation. But that’s just as unlikely as same-sex marriage….

      • Monica Grady Says:

        Lots of schools now ignore Easter, dividing the time between January and july into two equal periods, maybe just taking a long weekend at Easter and having a longer holiday at the halfway point. It would make sense for a uni to do that as well.

  2. Bryn Jones Says:

    I strongly like the idea of academic societies in Wales. There are many issues in academia that need discussion, promotion, planning and lobbying on a specifically Welsh scale which is sometimes difficult for United Kingdom central organisations to accomplish effectively. However, very few societies of this kind have been founded on an all-Wales basis.

    The Learned Society for Wales is a very interesting attempt to fill the void.

    I am, however, a little concerned that the Learned Society for Wales is rather broad in its scope, extending across all academic disciplines, when a few societies covering distinct broad subject areas (e.g. science, technology and engineering; arts and humanities) might have more focus. Another concern is that membership is by invitation, which restricts its membership to the very great and the very good – rather like the Royal Societies of London and of Edinburgh (in the sciences). I would prefer a more open membership to engage a broader section of academia, which might be more representative of the research community and might therefore be more relevant.

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