Incoming SU president Zaynab Ahmed at last terms electionTobia Nava

Incoming SU President Zaynab Ahmed said that she is “optimistic” that the reading week will pass through the University Council, the first major obstacle to it being approved.

The general board already considered the proposal last week (8/6) and it will be put before the University Council on Monday (20/6).

The council will decide whether the proposal is rejected or put to a Regent House ballot in Michaelmas, in which senior academics and administrative staff will have the final say.

If they vote in favour, the reading week could be implemented as early as Michaelmas 2023.

The proposal involves moving the start of the teaching term back three days and ending the term two days later on the Friday of week eight. A one week break would be introduced in the middle of term.

SU president Zak Coleman told Varsity he has worked to accumulate lots of feedback to give the proposal the greatest chance of success.

Small modifications have been made, including the total exemption of clinical medics from the proposed term structure.

Coleman acknowledged that some have raised concerns about the risk of a nine week term.

However, he is optimistic that clear guidance would prevent supervisors from setting work during the midterm break period.

He also suggested making centrally available spaces unbookable for teaching.

Coleman claims the reading week would help to remedy the “low and high level mental health problems” associated with the week five blues and align the Cambridge term structure with other universities.

He also believes the change would benefit academics who have young children because the date of the reading week would coincide with school half-term in Lent.


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64% of students who voted supported the proposal in a referendum last term. However, voter turnout was low at only 16%.

When pressed on whether this gave the proposal sufficient democratic support Ahmed said: “I’m confident that the proposal reflects a wide variety of views and has a strong democratic mandate.”

She added that as incoming SU president she plans to continue working towards the “hugely progressive change” next year.