ACADEMICS at Deakin University are calling on new vice-chancellor Jane den Hollander to ditch the struggling trimester system once she assumes office next month.
National Tertiary Education Union Deakin University president Colin Long said he hoped the new leader of Deakin's three campuses would revoke the trimester system and return to its old dual semester format.
He said pass rates stood at 55 per cent during the summer semester and there had also been a significant rise in special consideration and supplementary exams given to students who could not keep up with the demands of study.
"The trimester system has resulted in a big increase in failure rates, especially in the summer period," Dr Long said.
"It hasn't been well received by staff across all faculties and all campuses including Warrnambool's.
"Course selection during summer was also barely adequate. In Warrnambool, the list of subjects has been ordinary to say the least."
Dr Long said Professor den Hollander's succession of outgoing vice-chancellor Sally Walker next month could pave the way for a return to Deakin's former timetable.
Semesters before the reform lasted 13 weeks instead of 12 and a supplementary summer program was also offered over a shorter time span.
"The general consensus among staff is that it rushes through course material and that it cramps the same amount of study for students into a shorter time frame," Dr Long said.
"If the system is scored on either the number of students enrolled or student results, then it is less than satisfactory on both counts."
Deakin University academic deputy vice-chancellor Philip Clarke said the two summer trimesters had notched up successive student enrolment increases of 64 per cent in 2008/09 and 41 per cent in 2009/10.
He said the summer trimester had also received a ringing endorsement from participating students this year with 72 per cent of respondents indicating that they were satisfied with the course they were involved in.
"The university introduced the trimester system because it was in the best interests of both staff and students," Professor Clarke said.
"Students like it because it allows for greater flexibility with their studies, if they want to accelerate their course they can do so and if they have failed a subject they can repeat it during the summer trimester without delaying their graduation."
Professor Clarke said he doubted Dr Long's claim of a 55 per cent pass rate overall for summer trimester students and believed the figure had been confused with students receiving a 'pass' mark to those that had received a 'credit' or 'distinction'.
Deakin's Warrnambool campus offered seven subjects during the first summer trimester in 2008/09 including marine environment and outdoor environment education.
A total of 131 students enrolled during that trimester.