10 November 2018

Dissertation topic debacle

I ended my blog post on allocating dissertation topics to the students with the hope there would not be any further fall-out. But there was.

I got to the office, still a bit worse for wear after a hard week and a weekend of work, and was very soon accosted by one of my colleagues. He was very polite about the whole situation, but he was very explicitly not happy about the number of students he had. A few others had the same high number. And with these high numbers, you also get people with low numbers. It's a zero sum game! He said it wasn't fair. And it isn't, but then again, that just seemed to be the name of the game. I had looked at last year's numbers and it was a similarly uneven distribution. Apparently, that was fine! But this chap asked if I was fine with it if he went to get a second opinion. And sure, get as many opinions as you like.

Soon afterwards the phone rang. It was the Head of School. I had to change these allocations. He evidently had been the second opinion and put his foot down. This had to change. I wasn't happy about that but I could see his point. But I couldn't quite do that (it's a heck of a job) as I had a lot of teaching that day.

The next day I put my head down and set to work. I had another chat with the Head of School and all was clear. I would later have a chat with the Director of Teaching and Learning about the situation. I hoped to be ready to show him the new distribution. And on the clock, I got it done. I was exhausted.

Then he walked in. And told me he had had a chat with the Head of School as well. And they had changed their minds. It had to be done differently again. That was NOT what I wanted to hear! But I could see the rationale. So I got back to my computer and started again.

It wasn't even that much time to sort it out again; I was an old hand at it now. But I really didn't want any more shit so I had to make sure everyone was on board. So I ran it past the original complainant, past the Director of Teaching and Learning, and past all staff who had to take on new students. That was a lot of cat herding! People didn't pick up the phone, didn't respond to email, weren't sure, wanted more information from the person from which they would take a student but didn't want to make contact with them themselves, etc etc. I was hoping to have stuff sorted by Friday but there was still one unresolved case. It will have to be finalised the week after...

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