University of Wisconsin students can now start planning for longer vacations under new changes to the 2017-18 academic school year.

Shorter semesters and longer breaks are among the key changes to the schedule.

UW officials announced the major changes Wednesday after two years of discussion by a Summer Term Committee based in the Division of Continuing Studies, the provost and administrators.

These groups identified multiple problems with the previous academic calendar structure, which had been the same for the past few decades.

The problems with the previous schedule had “significant impacts” on students who had difficulty with planning academic and co-curricular activities, a previous report said. The report found these problems “negatively impact” the student experience.

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The changes in the 2017-18 schedule will allow for a longer winter break, which will be extended to Tuesday, Jan. 23 and will always start on a Tuesday in future years.

The 2017-18 academic year will begin Wednesday, Sept. 6, and all future semesters will start on Wednesdays as well.

All future semesters will comprise of 69 days.

In previous years, the semesters typically varied from 70 to 74 days and were of unequal length, Jane Richard deputy secretary of faculty, said.

“We now have two semesters of sixty-nine instructional days, which not only makes the semesters of equal length … but also puts us more in line with [other major institutions] in terms of number of instructional days,” Richard said.

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The reason for this particular change in semester length is to make classes taught every semester “more consistent,” Richard said.

This will benefit students in several ways, Richard said. This includes predictability in schedule in both length and start date.

The new schedule will also provide more flexibility for housing contracts and creates the possibility for additional study days, Richard said.

Moving forward, commencement will always be held on the second Saturday in May, giving more time for commencement events, Richard said.

All changes in the proposal passed with the exception of changing the dates for when grades are due, Richard said.