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If the trimester system is “trimonster” 

By Siyuan He

The so-called “trimonster” came into being under the University of Technology Sydney (UTS)’s policy of reducing its traditional 14-week semester to 11 weeks and adding a summer semester.

Another university, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has implemented trimesters in 2019. The move has been met with opposition.

People against the trimester decision.Image credit: NTEU

“Come on out and face us! Come on out and face us!” On March 8, 2017, 800 people rallied against the decision at the UNSW Library Lawn, resulting in more than 2000 people signing the petition. Public opinion and voice are everywhere. However, there are still some students support the trimester system. Meet a group of people who are concerned about the changes. 

Students express wrath on UNSW Rants Revived. Image credit: UNSW Rants Revived

One student complained on UNSW Rants Revived, expressing his wrath at the trimester system. “Every day of the week multiple assignments, multiple homework due and multiple tests. I haven’t seen daylight in years, and every day it feels like ant mans’ laughing at me from the inside.”

Tom Kennedy, the councilor on UNSW’s 2019 SRC, said that The survey which is run by UNSW SRC, so far has over 500 responses from students across all faculties, and the results point fairly conclusively to two points: mental health is at an all-time low and the content has not been restructured significantly enough to work under the new system. 

“I think there are very few, if any widespread advantages to trimesters, while there are many negatives. Based on the results of my survey, the trimester system has meant pain, confusion, and anger to students. There is no time to catch up on work, content comes too quickly, and there are so many potential problems have been completely neglected by the university,” Kennedy said.

Nora Han also outlined the impact of trimesters as an international student, from China attending UNSW to study media originally. Expressing her complain about the trimester system.

“Actually, I don’t really get time to have an internship, if you’re an HR or one of the companies, you don’t like to take a train who can only work two weeks, so I don’t think it’s more opportunity for me,” Han said.

“As an international student it is expensive for me to travel home and the holidays will be shorter, making my trips back home less worthwhile. There are only two breaks in the year now rather than three, so I can only stay in Sydney during my vacation.”

According to one news on Greenleft Weekly Newspaper, Rachel Evans, an education officer of the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Organization, said that the trimester model is a money-making program, putting more pressure on the mental health of students and staffs. 

He added that vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities, single parents and low-income people, could be harmed because the consequences of missing a class are enormous. Evans said that for international students, UNSW would produce a low-quality production degree at the same price as before.

There is a variety of student support the trimester system in UNSW. Anita Xia, a college resident at the University of New South Wales is also concerned about the trimester system, said that the trimester system actually helped her, reduced the rent pressure.

Anita Xia supports the trimester system in UNSW.

“In fact, this is very good for me, because we will stay here longer than before,” Xia said. “I have to go home for a three-month holiday. It is wasteful when the room is empty and no one is living, but now they change the holiday from four weeks to two weeks. I can save the rent, although I have lost a long vacation.”

Mark Liu is one of the staffs in the Australia-China Youth Association, which is an international non-governmental organization inArc@UNSW. This is a student organization to make students life at Uni more interesting, more fun, more personally rewarding, and ultimately more affordable.

“I’m fine because I wouldn’t do something extra, so actually thinking back, I thought trimester giving me a chance to push myself, to like you have to catch up everything in the lecture. In a way, it’s efficiency.”

If students and staff are feeling overwhelmed by the change, they can contact Arc@UNSW. They will do their best to provide the best support that they can. It is the main goal and their hope to ensure that students and staff are able to transition from semester to trimester more comfortably. Kennedy acknowledged that people still be anxious about the new policy, but these are not the fault of students.

“I think that while it is true that people will need to get used to trimesters, many problems are occurring not because of students not being used to them, but because of poor planning on the part of the university. The workload under trimesters is definitely higher, and our class and holiday times poorly align with other universities, job opportunities, school holidays, extracurricular events and so on. These aren’t the fault of students, and there’s little they can do to address them,” Kennedy said.