Published on October 22, 2013 | by Ruby Sigurdardottir0
‘Hellcat’ timetabling causes confusion
CelCat Timetabler, the software introduced across all UAL colleges, has been blamed for confusion among students and tutors at LCC, LCF and Camberwell during the first weeks of term.
Many students’ timetables provided by the new system sent them to lectures that did not exist or to rooms that other courses had booked.
Staff at Camberwell have been told there are still problems with timetabling at Camberwell due to technical difficulties and therefore “unfortunately, some room clashes are still happening.”
The software – referred to as ‘HellCat’ by some tutors – links room bookings with lecture slots and has been piloted at CSM since 2009.
It was rolled out university-wide over the summer, with the service enabling students to sync their course timetables with their personal calendars on laptops, tablets and smart phones.
However the introduction of the system to other colleges this summer caused disruption to teaching, lost students and interrupted lectures.
CelCat is described as a ”world leader in software for universities and colleges” on its website, but one senior lecturer at LCC described it as: “So basic, it’s perfect for 11-year-olds.”
A receptionist at LCF told ALN that many lost students approached her in the first week because their correct timetables had not been sent out in time; other students have complained that the wording on the timetables is too small to read, making them especially difficult for students with visual impairments.
There were students, however, who did have positive thoughts on CelCat; public relations student Laura Pike said: “I believe there have been some issues but so far it’s been okay to use.”
Cesca Falcone, another student at LCC, said: “I had problems with the timetable, both online and on my iPhone. I like the format though. It’s easy to understand.”
Les Claridge, Dean of Learning Environment at LCC, claimed the teams responsible for assembling the timetables were not given enough information by academic staff.
Claridge said: “All courses were asked to submit timetable requests on a provided template to timetabling offices by July 1. Regretfully, not everyone responded by this submission deadline and not everyone used the template provided. Some were on bits of paper with scant detail.”
Some lecturers dispute this, saying the requests for timetable information came before budgets and staffing had been finalised, and many are now advising students to be wary of the calendar and to double-check rooms and times with their tutor; students have also been warned to check their emails regularly for timetable updates.