You may have already heard about the trimester system in Western universities.
For example, in the UK, an academic year is usually divided into three semesters, each made up of 10 weeks – the autumn semester (October to December), the spring semester (January to March) and the summer semester (April to June).
This system is believed to bring more flexibility when scheduling classes, internships and personal projects.
Now China is introducing the system to its own students.
In fact, nearly half of the country’s Project 985 universities have already added the third semester into their academic timetables.
But our trimester system is a little bit different from that in the West.
Take China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) as an example, which has started to implement the new schedule from this month.
Its academic year will now be divided into the autumn semester (September to January), the spring semester (February to July) and the summer semester (July).
Lu Chunlong, director of the dean’s office at CUPL, told The Beijing News that during summer terms students would be able to take classes in other subjects. They are also encouraged to join courses in the form of social practice and internships.
It’s hoped that this new method will expose students to a broader and more diverse academic environment and help them to get their career plans on track.
However, some students worry that summer term courses are too condensed, pointing out that they would have to attend classes every day without having time to digest what they’ve learned.
This is why Lu suggests that students don’t overdo it during summer.
One course is the best, two tops, she advises.
But no matter the changes in academic schedules, it’s how you plan your studies that really matters.
Xiong Bingqi, vice-president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, said in an interview with Beijing News, What’s important is not how the academic year is divided, but how the studying contents are distributed among each term.