Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Organisation and communication: a study

A year ago this Friday I went to bed like normal. At around half past two I was woken by the piercing scream of the fire alarm. I lay there for a moment, my sleep-fuddled brain trying to process what was happening. I figured someone in one of the other flats had burnt some toast or something dumb like that, but the alarm persisted so I figured I should get up and see what was going on. I went to flick the light on, but when I hit the switch nothing happened. Odd, but I barely gave it a second thought, still semi-dozing even though I was on my feet.

I went to get my dressing gown as it was bad enough to think of facing my neighbours looking as rough and half-asleep as I did, let alone wearing my pyjamas. I opened my bathroom door to take my dressing gown off the hook on the other side of it and was enveloped by a thick cloud of black, toxic-smelling smoke. Through the haze I could vaguely see what looked like flames. I may or may not have said a couple of four-letter words and ran to get my phone. I called the fire brigade as I ran down the stairs, trying also to tell my neighbours over the screech of the alarm that it was a REAL FIRE, as they were tutting and shaking their heads at the fire alarm panel because it wouldn't reset. Well, duh!

So the fire brigade came and did their thing and I was homeless for three weeks while my flat was repainted. The damage was minimal really, but one thing that did get badly damaged was my ICT coursework, which was lying on the living room floor - open and almost completed - at that point and got trodden on by several firemen.

I got an extension on it, no problem - no one can really say anything to you when your flat's just caught fire - and I handed it in in April I think as I had to start again from scratch.

Skip several months to early September, when I'm waiting for my results to come back. Just before the beginning of the new academic year, the university sends you a sheet of all your results, saying whether you passed or failed and therefore, whether or not you may continue into the next year of study. When mine finally came through, it said I could continue into the second year, but that I had failed ICT.

I couldn't believe I had failed it, as although it was quite long and boring to do, it wasn't really that hard. I was annoyed, but rang the university to arrange to pay to retake the module and then emailed my ICT tutor to ask for my work back so I could see where I needed to improve.

He emailed me back almost straightaway to say that I hadn't failed, he just hadn't marked my work yet! He had mislaid it, but he'd just found it and would mark it as soon as possible. I couldn't believe it, but waited patiently for the result. A few days later he emailed me to let me know I had got 69%. 1% away from a First. Pretty good really. So I rang the finance department back to let them know I had passed and didn't need to retake the module, therefore, shouldn't have to pay the money (which was £100 in case you're interested).

They said they couldn't take my word for it, but said the mark would come through the system from my tutor so I left it. A month or so later I got a letter from the finance department, asking for at least half of the £100 for my repeated module. I rang them and explained the situation again and was told to take it up with my tutor.

I spoke to my tutor again and he assured me he had sent the mark through, but would chase it up. I thanked him and got on with my school placement.

In December I got another letter, asking for my LATE payment of £100 for my repeated module. So I rang the finance department AGAIN and told them the whole story AGAIN and was AGAIN told to take it up with my tutor. So I emailed him AGAIN and he took the name of the person who had written to me and emailed her personally, cc-ing me and my personal tutor. He apologised but explained that there was a huge amount of bureaucracy and red tape between himself and the finance department but that he really hoped it would get sorted this time.

Today I went to the computer suite to go online during my 3 hour break between lectures, but coulnd't log on. I asked at the desk and when the lady there tapped in my ID number she told me there was a block on my account. I had to go to the Registry to hand in my Ed Studies assignment anyway, so I figured that while I was over there I'd ask what was going on.

But when I tried to hand in my coursework they wouldn't even let me do that because of the block on my account due to an outstanding £100! They referred me to finance and I went over, nearly in tears from frustration by this point and spoke to the lady at the desk, again explaining the entire situation. She took my name and ID number and the name of the module, spent 10 minutes or so on the computer and maybe 2 minutes on the phone and sorted the whole thing out. I handed in my coursework and went back to the computer suite to look at cars on autotrader.co.uk.

Now why couldn't they have done that back in September?!?

Don't forget you can still delurk! You have alllllll week :)


Fi said...

Oh my! This is like in my first year (first couple of months in fact!) when I moved out of halls and then, because I hadn't paid the accommodation money (which was delayed because THEY had to recalculate the amount due to my moving out... blah) - I got "SUSPENDED" from university!

I got a letter in the post telling me not to go to any lectures, that I wasn't allowed to use the library, any university facilities etc. It was really upsetting! SO I totally understand those moments of upset for you :)

Anyway, that's all me-me-me and I have a blog of my own for that kind of thing!! Heh. I'm glad you got it sorted out though - and well done on your 69% even though it was a while ago now! xx

That Chick Over There said...

Hi! I'm just delurking! Nice to meet you and all! :)

Miss Chief said...

hi just delurking

RWA said...

Ok, come on. They would much rather not make the extra effort through e-mail or telephone. They think you will just give up and pay the money.

When you confront them in person, it's amazing how quickly the problem gets solved.

starrynite said...

Fi - not need to apologise after the sometimes lengthy comments I leave on your blog!

TCOT - nice to meet you too. I checked out your blog, looks cool, I think I will be checking back there again.

Miss Chief - thanks for delurking

RWA - it's so true, they can never be bothered to do anything unless you confront them in person. Grrr.

Meg said...

I'm delurking. And colleges are always difficult... it's like they're training you for dealings with the government.

Katya said...

Ugh. How frustrating, but I bet you're pretty happy that it's all over with now.

And more importantly, did the fire start in your flat or the neighbours?

Attention Whore said...

Red Tape...a pre-requisite for all University courses...do they really have to make it this difficult? Like you have nothing better to do than stress out over little crap when you could be like...checking out autotrader and all.