The University of Buckingham is the oldest of Britain’s independent universities. As of 2020 the university has a student population of 3300 students originating from more than 70 countries. The University of Buckingham is situated in the centre of Buckingham, and has three campus sites all within one mile at Hunter Street, Chandos Road and Verney Park. It was awarded Gold in the first-ever Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) rankings. It also achieved a “double positive” result in ratings in all six categories, in addition ranking 1st out of 129 universities for “Satisfied with course” in the Complete University guide 2018. The university have been working with EventMAP since 1999.
It became clear that the functionality of the current timetabling software was no longer covering the problems UoB were facing in terms of dealing with an increasing number of students with additional requirements especially around timetabling for exams (e.g. extra time requirements, PC use etc.) There was also improvement needed in the overall professionalism of the timetable delivery to students. Particular improvements were also sought in personal exam enrolments to individual students with special needs including adding constraints timetabling exams on alternate days, whilst for others linking exams together where exam questions or activities overlaped for assessment. This included the ability to constrain certain student timetables to avoid certain days for religious reasons e.g. avoiding exams on Fridays or Saturdays. Finally, the ability to show venues for those with special needs which could be at an alternate location to other students taking the same exam, and provide reporting facility for a variety of timetabling enquiries from students and university administrators alike.
As all Universities are different it is difficult to find a ‘one fits all’ examination software and EventMAP assured UoB the latest OptimeExam version of software could be tweaked to fit UoB needs exactly, once sign off was received, confirmed training days were arranged and the software was installed.
Both new timetables and new software were run in parallel, whilst keeping the UoB old system going as a back-up as this allowed any teething problems to be remedied. A Technical Consultant from EventMAP stayed with UoB throughout the upgrading process, and was able to speak to UoB users in a language they understood as it was noted by UoB “not all timetabling experts are also computer experts”. Having this level of support was extremely important to UoB, as they only had one member of staff dealing with all exam and lecture timetabling so being able to have close implementation support was a valued befit to them. Over the following 4 exam cycles EventMAP improved the existing functions so that they suited UoB and added new capabilities, which overdelivered on the original list of expectations, and challenges faced.
EventMAP overdelivered in both functionality and professionalism. Providing a bespoke piece of software that is easy to use and delivered on the UoB original wish list. UoB are now able to manage the growing numbers of students and manipulate their timetable to bring added value to the process and greater satisfaction to the 3,457 students taking exams. Leading to the Registrar commenting “This quality of exam timetable was never possible in the past and all concerned were extremely pleased with this outcome”.