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  • Home > Implementation of a unified academic calendar
    Implementation of a unified academic calendar
     
    The University will introduce a unified University academic calendar for all courses in its two modes of study (distance learning and face-to-face) with effect from September 2015.

    Why are we changing the academic calendar?

    Currently, distance learning and face-to-face courses use two academic calendars which start and end at slightly different times.
    The OUHK wishes to establish a genuine flexible multi-mode learning system in which students are free to choose a mixture of both face-to-face and distance learning courses in order to complete their graduation requirements. This can only be achieved if the academic calendars for the two modes of study are aligned.
    The new unified calendar will have a summer break (or holiday) for distance learning courses, which we believe will be welcomed by many distance learning students who take learning as a lifelong endeavour. Extra-curricular activities and student exchange programmes can be arranged during this period of time.

     

    Details of the change

    The changes basically apply to distance learning courses.
    Currently, distance-learning programmes and courses start in April or October each year; these are referred to as the April and October presentations.
    In the new academic calendar, the academic year is divided into two academic terms and break: the Autumn Term and the Spring Term, followed by a summer break .*
    Each academic term lasts for 20 weeks, with the last 4 weeks scheduled as the examination period.
    The summer break lasts for 12 weeks, and in this period no learning activities are planned. However, in some courses or programmes, the summer break is used for study purposes (as a Summer Term).
    Under the new academic calendar, if the duration of a course is one term, it will consist of 16 study weeks, followed by a 4-week examination period. This is different from our existing calendar, which has 17 study weeks.
    Under the new calendar, if the duration of a course is two terms, it will consist of 36 study weeks. This is different from the existing calendar, which has 42 or 43 weeks.
    Two-term courses which start in the Autumn Term will have a continuous period of 36 weeks of study time, going from Autumn through to the Spring Term. Students will have their 4-week examination period in May.
    Two-term courses which start in the Spring Term will first have 20 weeks of study time, followed by a 12-week summer break, before they continue with another 16 weeks of learning in the Autumn Term. Students will have their 4-week examination period at the end of the Autumn Term.
    The time spans of existing and new course presentation periods are illustrated in the below diagram.
    --------------------
    * Not applicable to most programmes offered by the Division of Nursing and Health Studies.

     

    Comparison of existing and new course study periods

    calendar

     

    Major differences between the existing and the new distance learning academic calendars, and implications for students

    Changes in academic term start dates for distance learning courses

    New calendar Existing calendar
    2015 Autumn Term starts On 7 Sep 2015 2014 Oct presentation starts On 1 Oct 2014
    2016 Spring Term starts On 25 Jan 2016 2015 Apr presentation starts On 1 Apr 2015
    2016 summer break starts On 13 Jun 2016 No summer break
    2016 summer break ends On 4 Sep 2016

    Changes in examination time of distance learning courses

    New calendar Existing calendar
    2015
    Autumn Term
    examination period
    4 weeks, starting from
    28 Dec 2015
    (i.e. 17th to 20th week of Autumn Term)
    2014 Oct
    presentation examination period
    4 weeks,
    starting in Feb 2015
    2016
    Spring Term
    examination period
    4 weeks, starting from
    16 May 2016
    (i.e. 17th to 20th week of Spring Term)
    2015 Apr
    presentation examination period
    4 weeks,
    starting in Aug 2015

    Changes in number of study week and study time per week for distance learning courses

    In the new academic calendar, the number of study weeks for a 5-credit course is now reduced from 17 to 16, and the study weeks for a 10-credit course from 42 (or 43) to 36.
    A 5-credit course usually has 5 study units, so each study unit is scheduled for about 3 weeks’ study time. This makes a total of 15 to 16 study weeks for the course, and 150 hours of study time. You are required to study for about 10 hours each week. The revision period will normally begin after the cut-off date for the last assignment.
    A 10-credit course usually has 10 study units. Each study unit is scheduled for about 3 to 4 weeks, i.e. a total of 30 to 36 weeks’ study time. You are normally required to study for about 9 to 10 hours per study week. Again, the revision period will normally begin after the cut-off date for the last assignment.
    Notice that for 10-credit courses starting in the Spring Term, you have 20 study weeks before you come to a summer break of 12 weeks. You will then continue with your study for 16 weeks after the break. So slightly more than half of your study will be completed in the Spring Term (20 weeks). After the summer break, you will have about 16 weeks to cover the remaining part of the course.

    Changes in assignments and examinations dates

    The latest submission date for the last assignment is now on the 14th study week for 5-credit courses, and on the 34th study week for 10-credit courses.
    The examination periods have also been changed. For the Autumn Term, examinations will start at the end of December, going all the way through January (for 4 weeks). For the Spring Term, examinations will start in mid May, going all the way to mid June (again for 4 weeks).

    New course registration

    With the change in the academic calendar, course admission or registration times will be different from the past. Students enrolling in distance learning courses are advised to plan for this earlier.
    The admission or registration periods for the Autumn Term will take place in June as before but that for the Spring Term will now begin in November rather than in December as in the past.
    The exact admission application or registration periods for the 2015/16 academic year are as follows:

      2015 Autumn Term 2016 Spring Term
    Term start date 7 Sep 2015 25 Jan 2016
    Admission application/ registration period 1 Jun – 28 Jul 2015 2 Nov – 15 Dec 2015

     

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    FAQs on unified academic calendar for distance learning students

    1. What are the major benefits for the unified academic calendar?

      The unified academic calendar allows the University to establish a genuine flexible multi-mode learning system in which students are able to choose both face-to-face and distance learning courses offered in a term to complete their graduation requirements. This can only be achieved if the academic calendars for the two modes of study are aligned.

      The new unified calendar will have a summer break (or holiday) for distance learning courses, which we believe will be welcomed by many distance learning students who take learning as a lifelong endeavour.

      The new arrangements provide greater flexibility, which is unavailable before, for students to participate in other learning/extra-curricular activities in summer. For academic study such as project courses, students may also make use of the summer break to engage in their own research/project work or field trips.

    2. What are the major impacts in studying distance learning programmes after the unified academic calendar?

      The timeline of study and related learning activities will change slightly under the unified academic calendar. For example, the schedule for admission/course registration, start/end dates of academic term and timing of examination will change.

    3. Does it affect the timing for my application/course enrolment?

      Yes. The admission or registration periods for the Autumn Term will take place in June as before (the term will begin in early September and not October) but that for the Spring Term (the term will start in late January) will now begin in November rather than in December as in the past.

    4. Does it affect the timing on my examination?

      Yes. The examination periods will be different. For the Autumn Term, examinations will start at the end of December, going all the way through January (for 4 weeks). For the Spring Term, examinations will start in mid-May, going all the way to mid-June (again for 4 weeks).

    5. Would the general policy on open admission for distance learning programmes remain the same after the alignment of academic calendar?

      Yes, 'Learning for all' remains the same for distance learning programmes. Admission to OUHK is open to anyone in Hong Kong over the age of 17. OUHK is unique among Hong Kong tertiary institutions in that it has no entry requirements for most of its first degree distance learning programmes. Exit standards, however, are rigorous.

    6. Would the unified academic calendar change the mode of delivery or ways of learning for distance learning programmes?

      No. As before, much of teaching and learning is achieved by means of course packages that contain specially structured learning materials such as printed/electronic study units, supplementary readings and assignment questions. These are supplemented by face-to-face tutorials held in the evenings or weekends. In addition, most OUHK distance courses use media such as video and audio programmes, computer software, CD-ROMs and broadcast TV, and most incorporate online components that enrich student learning and communication.

      The University also plans to provide additional face-to-face contact hours, which are optional, to some distance learning programmes in the near future.

    7. Would the unified academic calendar affect the flexibility in studying distance learning programmes/courses?

      No. As before, OUHK offers unparalleled flexibility in distance education study methods, so it is particularly suitable for busy Hong Kong people. As an OUHK student, you can still study wherever you want, and whenever you want — you do not need to attend lectures at fixed times and places. You can also control the pace at which you complete your programme — there are no time limits on finishing a qualification. You also have the added flexibility of multiple exit points and articulated programmes.

    8. Would the pace of study or the duration of study to complete a distance learning programme be affected by the unified academic calendar?

      No. OUHK distance learning students can study at their own pace as usual. Under the aligned academic calendar, there are still two academic terms in each academic year. Students can complete a 2-term course within one year as before. The duration of study to complete a distance learning programme still depends on how fast and how much time etc. that a student can spend on the study as before.

    9. Would the financial assistance provided to distance learning students be affected under the new academic calendar?

      No. The provision of student financial assistance for students will not be affected by the unified academic calendar. OUHK bursaries and loans, Government financial assistance schemes, OUHK MasterCard Interest Free Tuition Loan, Scholarships and prizes are still available as before. Please watch out for the important deadlines which will be slightly adjusted.

     

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