Summer holidays

July 19, 2013 - careers / HE politics

One sure-fire way to get up an academic’s nose is to suggest that we have massive long summer holidays. There’s this misconception that we just sit around relaxing when the students aren’t here – without the normal day to day of teaching and admin, we’re just sat in the coffee room drinking pimms or something. So I thought I’d let you know what a day in the life of a junior academic looks like, during the summer “holidays”. Today I have done the following…

  • Discussed the organisation of one of our first year modules for next year. Should we have randomly allocated tutorials? How should we organise the material? What went well? What could do with a bit of work?
  • Worked on the finance side of a grant application: we have to make sure, when we apply for research money, that it all adds up and makes sense (as well as fitting within any maximum amount decreed by the funding body).
  • Met my PhD student Vaughan, and discussed a conference submission and some future work.
  • Met Alasanne, a PhD student I’m second supervisor for, who’s giving a talk at a conference soon so we wanted to see a trial version.
  • Read through the draft online form for the grant proposal (the one mentioned earlier – by this point, the finances had been confirmed).
  • Helped organise a meeting next week joint between my department and Sports Science to see if there are opportunities for collaboration
  • Send off emails to a couple of potential referees for the grant proposal.
  • Had a read through of the supporting documentation for the grant (comes to about 15 pages of 11pt text) and checked it was OK – spotted a couple of typos, ran the spellchecker, uploaded new versions.
  • Had a chat with my PhD student Max, who’d been working down at the beach (this is not a joke – he is building a balloon-mounted camera to help with the navigation of robot boats!). He was most cheerful – he’d had a successful first balloon flight and had managed to get pictures off the blimp and onto his raspberry pi.
  • Wrote a resit exam question for one of my other first year modules and sent it to the module coordinator.
  • Wrote a quick blog post

Now I’m off to a class at the sports centre which starts at 5, and then I am going to have a weekend of fun by the seaside. Actually – that’s the main difference between in and out of term time: it’s not the business during the week, it’s the fact that over the summer, we’re more likely to get weekends. Which is nice!


  1. Fenny says:

    What’s even more annoying, when you work in a college, is that most people – both in and out of the college – assume you get summer holidays at all. This is my busiest time of year with new apprentices starting and existing ones either progressing to the next programme or completing. I am trying to chase up certificates, but the teaching staff have gone on their (not very long) holidays and the Exams department are down to a skeleton crew. The canteen has one person on duty at lunchtime and not much by way of choice. The shop is closed. Most of the toilets in the building are closed. And the bl**dy Principal’s blog wishes us all a nice break.

    The only upside is that the wardens are patrolling the rooms at 4.45, checking who’s around, because they want us all of the premises by 5pm.

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