Sunday, March 26, 2006

Dear Dr Thornborrow

I think Malaysians do not quite like confrontations. That may in some way explain why people are not so keen on the Student Staff Consultative Committee. Perhaps also because they are so used to the lack of outcome after they complain (at the country level) and so they remain mute. However, this is really quite detrimental to the ‘image’ of the country or the organisation for that matter as we understand that if a customer is not an apostle for the organisation but instead become a ‘terrorist’ then it takes a lot of effort to quell this bad mouthing that is happening out there. Yes, I suppose we do need to be coaxed to attend these meetings and also reassured that our complaints will be heard and action taken. There is another thing- the whistle blowing policy. We should be also assured that when we do complain, we will not be “penalized” in any way.

I would like to highlight a few things that could be improved to help us students

1) Management of Change :
I believe that the way the assessment for the 60% heavy group assignment is not very fair. This is because the first group only has effectively 3 nights to prepare (Sun, Mon and Tuesday).. and out of this, perhaps they already have prior engagements on the weekend that cannot be avoided and worst, they have classes in the evening on Monday and Tuesday (Business Commercial Law) – so in reality the group only has perhaps only one night of work. [Please note that we are talking about part time students here who have to go to work in the day. You would also note that for the case of Timothy who has to fly to KK in the middle of the preparation time and presentation time, it would not be fair to that person if the group marks him down for participation when it really is out of his hands to control his ‘fate’ when it comes to obeying his boss (being an employee and all)]. In such a short time, there is no way the group is able to come up with superior work. If the group is graded on ‘equal’ scale compared to the other groups (2-5) which have different length of time to complete the assignment, it won’t be such a surprise that there will not be many students doing this course in the next semesters. The reason given that “this happens in the corporate world too” really does not reassure us of the kind of managers that we hope to become nor what Nottingham is molding us to be in the future.

It would seem that the ones who have plenty of weeks to finish the assignment would take their own sweet time and only rush at the end..but what if they are the Type A personalities who are really hardworking, have a chronic sense of urgency and etc.. don’t you think that they will be really looking into the subject matter and start reading and researching for all the materials? I am sure that they would have the time to pick and choose from the choicest morsels of information. I am also sure that they will see the lecturer to show what they planned to do, to get advice and have plenty of time to act on the advice. Of course the work will be so much better than the 1st group which only managed to scramble to gather their thoughts and put that little bit down on paper.

Assuming that there are 5 groups, then 10 topics are given. In the first week, the lecturer picks up a number out of the 10. That number is then put on one of the pieces of paper. The rest of the 4 pieces of papers are blank. All the groups draw lots. Therefore only one group gets the number (the rest do not have any numbers). The assignment is due in 10 days from the time that the lots were drawn. Then the next week, another group is chosen for a number (also chosen by the lecturer by drawing lots too). The last group (which is 5) will not be able to guess which number they will pick so they will not have much of a chance to prepare beforehand. I am trying to show a more ‘fair’ method for everyone.

2) Books
It is really amazing that our reference books eg Services Marketing only arrived in the University Bookstore when we are 80% finished with our module. How can this happen? Last semester we faced the same problem and this semester…. It’s really not a very productive use of the students’ time when they have go running around town grabbing the last book in the city book stores. It would be helpful if the books can be in the bookstore before the start of the semester.

3) Reading lists
Believe it or not, some students would like ALL the reading lists way ahead of time so that when they attend the classes, they would have already read the required chapters and so are able to ask ‘good’ questions that are beneficial. I know as I was one of those people who called Ashley 1 month before campus started in September last year so that I could catch up because I know that I would be competing with brilliant students and those with great working experience.

4) Toilet cleaners
I am not sure if I should be writing to you about this but the fact is that the cleaners (male) that sit next to the ladies’ toilet especially during the quiet (no one around) weekend classes are giving the women an uneasy feeling when they go to the toilet alone.

5) SEM and SETS (Lecturer accessments)
It would be better if this was carried out by someone else rather than the lecturer involved and the papers collected by that other someone too. It makes the lecturers and students rather uncomfortable when the above procedure is not carried out properly.

6) Weekend blocks
Having a 18 hour study weekend on top of many people’s schedule of 40-60 hour work week may be not be conducive or learning. This effectively gives no one any rest before the cycle begins again the next week. It would be best if the Sundays are left alone so that students can rest or catchup with study or even have time to meet up with group mates for the group assignments.

Well thanks for your listening ear and your openness to our feedback on the MBA and other things. Also, thanks for taking over the Directorship and I know that you will do a good job. In fact, I would like to thank you for listening to all our moanings and groanings earlier (we definitely feel at ease with you) and allowing us the chance to have an honest dialogue with you.

Your obedient and faithful student

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