Visuals by Edeline Tenges.
As the semester trudges along and students finally snap out of their summer mood in the face of looming assignments and deadlines, it is a good time to reminisce on our first collective ordeal as undergraduates of the university — module bidding.
This year, the typically uneventful task of choosing modules became a rather controversial affair due to the shift in platforms from CORS to ModReg, evoking mixed feelings in many students. But first, let’s delve into the differences between the two platforms.
ModReg, NUS’s new consolidated module registration platform made available at EduRec, claims to be a “rules-driven, priority-based engine to allocate modules” according to the criteria of:
- Curricular needs;
- Seniority in the programme; and
- Module preferences
Based on the above factors, a Priority Score is generated for each module, which is then taken into consideration when demands for a module exceeds the available spots.
In the case of a tie in Priority Scores, other factors are then taken into consideration, such as whether the student has attained the minimum workload, the number of module feedback points, or even random balloting.
The process of “bidding” itself is simple — you simply rank your chosen modules and hope for the best. Whilst the platform provides an overview of the demand for the module and the number of available slots, that is as much information as you can get.
Overall, the contrast between both platforms can be summarised as such:
Personally, I was initially rather optimistic about the new ModReg platform. As a Year 2 student, the odds were never in my favour when bidding for modules via CORS as seniors would always have the upperhand since they had more “disposable” points, leaving me wishing I could somehow purchase extra points through Carousell. I thought that with the new system, I was somehow able to leverage on my seniority to finally get the modules that I wanted.
However, my confidence was unfortunately misplaced, as the ModReg experience turned out to be largely inconvenient and stressful.
Based on my conversations with fellow students, I’ve narrowed down the main grievances to the following two:
- Ambiguity and lack of transparency in the module allocation process
- General inefficiency of the new platform (i.e. technical difficulties, late allocation of modules)
Despite the stated criteria above and the enactment of the Priority Score, many students still felt that the allocation process was an unfair and confusing one.
In particular, it seemed to be the case where within a major, there would be students of the same year who ranked modules similarly but were unable to obtain the same modules. As such, students who seemed equally qualified to be assigned a module would somehow get different results, highlighting the inconsistency of the process.
Apart from issues with the allocation process itself, the platform also proved to be inefficient and erratic for many students. For starters, students faced numerous technical difficulties, especially during Round 1, when they navigated the platform for the very first time.
For Sam, a Year 2 FASS student, he and many students alike faced troubles accessing the basic functions of the ModReg system.
“When the bidding period started, I could not even select the modules I wanted to bid for due to a technical glitch. I had to call the ModReg Help Desk and email them before the issue was eventually resolved, which was very inconvenient.”
Aside from technical issues, the late allocation of modules disrupted academic plans, as some students could not achieve their minimum workload even when the semester had already begun.
We all recall the anarchy of Week One — lecture theatres packed to the brim with hopeful students attending classes they had not even been allocated yet, and the atmosphere of annoyance as constant complaints about ModReg filled the air.
For some, the effects of ModReg’s delayed schedule surpassed the semester. A Year 2 Business Administration student, who wished to be known as Allison, shared that she had “no choice” but to take a finance module that she had intended to map for exchange as she was not allocated a highly sought after Business core module even after Round 3.
In particular, the uncertainty ModReg brought about impacted Year 4 students the most, as the poor allocation of modules could possibly affect one’s graduation plans.
Other students, such as Year 4 Political Science major Tan Ting Jie, saw how such changes affected the administrators as well.
“I think the transition towards ModReg has been painful, particularly towards admin staff from the departments. But I think this experience gave me a taste of what is to come in the future when my own workplace has to go through painful reforms.”
For many seniors like him who have established close relationships with the department personnel, he witnessed firsthand the effort required by those working tirelessly behind the scenes. In a way, the shift to ModReg revealed that structural changes do not happen overnight, for they require adaptations at various hierarchies.
On the other end of the spectrum, professors did not seem to feel the effects brought about by ModReg as acutely. When asked to comment on ModReg, professors from the Arts and Business faculty expressed that there was no difference in their teaching experience as they were “quite used” to the “last minute shuffles” of students every year.
Likewise, freshmen were likely to be less affected by the new platform, as they are often pre-allocated a majority of their modules in the first semester.
Either way, it is worth giving ModReg a chance in spite of the many flaws in its execution this academic year. We should recognize that at the end of the day, ModReg is introduced to simplify our bidding process, and we should be less quick to diss on the new features introduced on this nascent platform.
In the coming semester, NUS is likely to be working on improving the platform, and I am certain that we are all eagerly anticipating a smoother and less disruptive module bidding experience that won’t ModRekt us like it did this time. Till then, let’s take heart in the fact that ModReg will only get better from hereon.
Were you rekt by ModReg, or did you manage to benefit from this new system? Tell us more at firstname.lastname@example.org.