Today, the online selection process for optional module choices opened, and it left students across several disciplines confused and frustrated. In some cases students were forced to wait as long as six hours to submit their module choices for the next academic year.
With several faculties opening their module ballots this morning at 8:00 am, the online options choice website ‘banner self-service’, accessible through SUSSED, crashed at approximately 10:00 am due to the high levels of traffic. Vague statements from the ‘SotonUniServiceLine’ Twitter account gave no real, or accurate, indication about when the site would be up and running again, with estimates ranging from within 45 minutes, (given at 10:08 am), to by 2:30 pm (given at 1.29 pm). With some module choices being awarded on a first come first served basis, this uncertainty left many students extremely stressed and forced to decide between attending lectures and seminars, and risking missing out on their desired module choices, or spending the day frantically refreshing the banner self-service page. Students who had woken at 8:00 am to select their choices but could not do so until nearly 3:00 pm were waiting for over 6 hours.
Even when the Banner Self Service site was declared back up at approximately 2.45 pm, the technical problems continued, with students selecting their modules only for the site to crash, which caused uncertainty about if those choices had been registered. This, given the rumoured, rumoured because it was never actually officially confirmed, first come first served nature of the process, was unsurprisingly distressing.
However, the technical difficulties were not the only problem as poor communication meant that some students were unaware that the module ballots were even taking place today. Humanities students received the first official email to notify that the online option choices system would be available today, from 8:00 am, at 9:13 am, over an hour after the ballot had opened. Law students did not receive this email until 9:53 am. Furthermore, there was further confusion as to whether the process would be done on a first come first served basis. This, seemingly important, detail was omitted from the email correspondence, with students just being told that the system would be open until 9th May 2016. Students were ‘reassured’ that it would be clarified whether the modules would be allocated on a first come first served basis later in the day, but, given that some modules were capped at 15 people, modules could easily have been full by this point. A first come first served system, which would inevitably cause systems to crash, seems very unfair especially when students were not told about it in advance.
While this may seem a trivial issue in the grand scheme of things, module choices are important. The modules you study might affect how much you enjoy your degree and how much work you will put in, and thus potentially an overall degree grade. Additionally, not being able to study a certain module might affect future study or career plans. Surely when paying £9,000 to study a year, the process of deciding what we will be studying should be fairer and smoother.
With poor communication from the university, the task of keeping students up-to-date today was left to academic presidents and course representatives who were ill-informed and in the same position themselves. Frankly, the efforts of these students went beyond what is expected of them and they should be commended for doing their best to reassure students and investigate what was going on.
Following today’s events History Academic President, Samuel Dedman, has issued a statement:
”Due to a number of unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances the module ballot that took place today did so under challenging circumstances. I would like to make it very clear that students should have been better communicated with, and I am going to work alongside my other Academic Representatives to ensure that we do not have a repeat of this event in the future. The ballot will be discussed at all Staff-Student Liaison Committees, and I’m confident that your Academic Representatives will update you once these conversations have taken place.”
VP Education Shruti Verma has commented:
”Just to let you know I’m working with the University to feedback the problems with Banner and the optional modules….I will update when I know more.”
Abysmal communication and technical problems, that should have been anticipated, have caused unprecedented disruption for many students at what is already a very busy time of year. We can only hope that students have not been left too disappointed and that action will be taken to prevent a slip-up of this nature happening in the future.
@UoS_ServiceLine This is actually a joke now. Wasted nearly a whole day waiting to pick my options. Ridiculous.
— Mike Dade (@MikeyDade) April 18, 2016
Spent all day trying to pick modules for next year, instead of doing actual degree work. Great job Southampton.
— Evie Reilly (@_Evelyn_Grace_) April 18, 2016
The University has let me down today
— Olivia Burbridge (@Burbridge17) April 18, 2016
The Online Options Choice website is working correctly, but is currently experiencing high demand following the outage this morning.
— SotonUniServiceLine (@UoS_ServiceLine) April 18, 2016
Please contact your course representative if you have any feedback or comments regarding today’s events.