Frequently Asked Student Questions

The frequently asked questions below will be updated and expanded during the course of this review as we respond to the different issues raised by various stakeholders.

How would it benefit me?

In a trimester system students may:

  • have greater choice and flexibility over study, work and lifestyle commitments
  • be able to begin or complete their degree at different times of the year
  • be able to fast track their degree and finish earlier
  • opt for a lighter workload and spread units of study out more evenly  across the year
  • take a semester off for work or travel
  • make up missed or failed units in the third trimester.

We would like to hear your views on the possibility of Western Sydney University extending the academic year to three teaching periods, and how this might affect your study. Your feedback will help inform any future decisions about the Western Sydney University academic year.

If, after thorough investigation, a decision is made to move forward with some form of a trimester system, it would not be implemented before 2014.

Why is Western Sydney University contemplating extending the academic year?

Like many universities in Australia, the academic year at Western Sydney University is currently organised across two semesters with a lengthy break over the summer period. However, many students believe that in the current system, time is not utilised to its fullest advantage. There appears to be demand for year-round learning with greater flexibility. This is particularly strong amongst those who are studying on a part-time basis and combining study and work. A few universities have moved to a trimester system offering students greater choice and flexibility over time and pace of study.

Western Sydney University is continuing to explore ways in which we can effectively manage future growth and also deliver a more student-centred and flexible learning experience.

Potentially, adopting some form of a trimester system may help to:

  • offer greater choice and flexibility over study, work and lifestyle commitments for students
  • ensure that Western Sydney University remains competitive
  • create a distinctive brand for the University
  • utilise the existing facilities, infrastructure and resources more efficiently
  • accommodate the anticipated growth in student enrolments.

A trimester system may also appeal to international students who may be able to complete their studies in a shortened period of time or begin or complete a degree at different times of the year.

What might the new academic year look like?

If Western Sydney University adopts some form of a trimester system there would be three formal academic teaching periods. A possible trimester structure for 2014 could look like this:

Trimester 1: Late January to late April (13 weeks)
Inter Trimester Break: 3 weeks
Trimester 2: Early June to late August (13 weeks)
Inter Trimester Break: 3 weeks
Trimester 3: Mid September until early December (13 weeks)
End-of-Year Break: 7 weeks

The model above has a total of 13 weeks in each trimester, including 10 weeks of scheduled classes and two weeks for examinations. In this model there are three weeks between semesters with a seven week break over December and January during the summer period before the new academic year begins in the following year.

Would a trimester system be introduced University-wide?

The University is conducting a review into the possible extension of the academic year. Before making any decisions about the Western Sydney University academic year, we would like to gather input from our community to examine current perceptions about such a change. Following this consultation, an informed decision will be made on whether a trimester system will be introduced as a pilot in some of the schools, introduced throughout the University or not introduced at all.

Would I have to study in trimester three if the system is introduced in my school?

No. A trimester system offers great flexibility and it is usually not compulsory for students to undertake studies in the third trimester. Usually, students are able to continue to study in Trimesters 1 and 2 only if that is their preference, and have a long break over the summer to work, travel or spend time with friends and family.

What would I be able to study in the third trimester?

If a third trimester is introduced, it would become another formal teaching period where a range of units of study are offered giving students the flexibility to study extra units or re-take units that have been missed or failed. 

When can we expect some feedback from this review?

Results of the Academic Year Review Survey will be available on this website in November  2012.

What is the timeframe?

If a decision is made to move forward with some form of a trimester system, it would not be implemented before 2014. Relevant systems would need to be modified in 2013 for a possible 2014 implementation.

Which other Australian universities use a trimester system?

Australian universities which currently use some form of trimester system include:

  • Bond University
  • Central Queensland University
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Curtin University of Technology
  • Deakin University
  • Southern Cross University
  • University of Canberra
  • University of Newcastle
  • University of New England
  • University of Western Australia

How can I contribute to the discussion on the issue?

The Academic Year Review Survey is now closed.  However, you can still participate in any or all of the various forums to provide feedback. You can submit your feedback using the online form or write or speak directly to a member of the Academic Year Review Team.