University of Cambridge establishes working group to investigate implementing reading week

The group will investigate the ‘practicalities’ of implementing a reading week and generate a proposal to bring to university committees

The University of Cambridge will be establishing a working group to look into the “practicalities” of implementing a reading week for Michaelmas and Lent terms, according to an announcement from Cambridge SU today (10/06).

Cambridge SU Undergraduate President, Ben Margolis, says restructuring the Cambridge term will require a “re-examination of workload, wellbeing support and education provision.” In considering the implementation of a reading week, he believes the university has a “great opportunity” to demonstrate a “meaningful commitment” to “both education quality and student-staff welfare.”

The decision to establish a working group follows an overwhelming vote favouring restructuring the term at the SU All-Members’ Meeting. Cambridge SU has since been involved in “continued discussions” on the topic of a reading week with “senior stakeholders” from the university and its faculties, departments, and colleges.

The current schedule of Michaelmas compared to an alternative structure which contains a reading week (Photo credit: Edward Parker Humphreys via Student Loneliness Report)

The group will aim to investigate the “practicalities” of implementing a reading week, and members of the group will “consult with different stakeholders” in the university to “understand the practical impacts” of introducing a reading week and generate a proposed plan for its implementation. This plan would be brought to university committees for approval sometime in the next academic year.

Cambridge SU Undergraduate President, Ben Margolis, said it was a “testament” to the “power of students” that “we are seeing positive movement from all parties to make this a reality.”

He explained that the university body has a “great opportunity” to show its dedication to student and staff welfare by debating this new calendar, especially after the pandemic has “clearly proved” that the education and wellbeing of students are “intimately connected.”

The decision to establish a working group was prompted by an SU campaign to introduce a reading week and a complete freshers’ week at the university. The SU has since facilitated “continued discussions” with senior university members regarding a new format for the eight-week term.

Earlier this year, students at the SU’s All-Members’ Meeting overwhelmingly voted in favour of mandating the SU to lobby for the restructuring of the Cambridge term.

Former CUSU President Edward Parker Humphreys first proposed restructuring the Cambridge term in his Student Loneliness Report, published in July 2020. The campaign was continued this year by Ben Margolis, the current Undergraduate President of Cambridge SU. The SU Undergraduate President-elect Zak Coleman also included lobbying for a reading week on his manifesto.

Feature image credit: Poppy Robinson