Alli Coyle, Timetabling Manager in Student Administration/ School Support Services joined ENU in June 2018. As Timetabling Manager, Alli is responsible for the delivery of personalised timetables for our UG and TPG students who are based at our Edinburgh campuses as well as personalised timetables for academic staff. As part of the Student Administration team, Alli also supports colleagues with our registration (matriculation), exams, graduations and records work throughout the academic year. 

Alli shares her career story in this Q&A


Tell us a bit about your career to date?

Following my undergraduate degree (in Politics and Economics) I secured a role working for a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) before moving to Edinburgh to study for a Masters in African Studies. I then got the opportunity to work with the Scotland-Malawi Partnership, in a role which aligned more with my MSc Studies. This eventually led me to working and living in Malawi, where I undertook some consultancy work with the Scottish Charity Mary’s Meals.

I moved to Higher Education in 2010, initially as a teaching assistant before moving into Professional Services in 2012. I discovered timetabling by accident (as do most people). It was through a role I held at the University of Edinburgh, when a change to our business processes gave me a glimpse into the timetabling world. Sometime later, Timetabling Services were expanding, I applied successfully for a role.

Whilst I loved my job and the team I worked with, I recognised that there was limited promotion track and I would need to step away from timetabling if I wanted to progress my career. It took me quite a while to make that decision and I really struggled with leaving timetabling behind (the people and the job).

I moved to take a role with the Academy of Government, working as the Administration and Engagement Officer. This role was a bit like going full circle as part of it involved managing the placement element of the Parliamentary Programme, liaising with MSPs and Ministers. It allowed me to mesh my experience of working for an MSP and at the Scottish Parliament with a professional services role supporting our students and the work of the Academy of Government.

What prompted you to join Edinburgh Napier?

Whilst I was enjoying my work at the Academy of Government, I was once again keeping an eye out for a new challenge. In a twist of fate, a friend asked me to look at a job description for a role they were thinking of applying of. The role was at ENU. As I searched for the role my friend asked me to look at, I spotted the advert for Student Administration Officer (Timetabling).  My friend decided the role at ENU wasn’t for them, but I decided to apply for the timetabling role.

I really liked the idea of moving back into a timetabling role. I knew that ENU had recently completed the myTimetable project to introduce personalised timetables and the role appealed as a lot of it was about embedding business as usual processes and enhancing the existing timetabling provision. 

What really made me want the role though was the interview. I came away with the feeling that working at ENU would be a great opportunity, but more importantly that these were the type of people I wanted to work for and work with. 

I started at ENU as Student Administration Officer (Timetabling) in June 2018 and most recently moved into the Timetabling Manager role in July 2022.

What difference has working at Edinburgh Napier made to your career?

I regularly attend the Academic Registrars’ Council Timetabling Practitioners Group and other timetabling sector events. As a result, I’ve been able to grow my network with colleagues across the sector and have been involved in collaborating with and supporting timetabling colleagues at other institutions. The opportunity to work with colleagues across the sector has really pushed me to question what makes good timetabling practice and learn from their skills and experience (particularly during the pandemic).

What is the best thing about your role?

It’s definitely the people that I get to work with. No day is ever the same. Timetabling touches so many other University activities from classroom AV infrastructure to the type of furniture in a room. How many people can say they start a day with logistics trying to work out how to make the best fit of furniture in a classroom and finish it with IS colleagues going over plans for upgrades and roll forwards. I genuinely get a buzz from scheduling the timetable – it’s like doing a 3D jigsaw puzzle that keeps getting a new section added.

What difference have you made at Edinburgh Napier that you are most proud of?

The implementation of Resource Booker is one of the things I think has made a difference at ENU. It was real team effort in a very short timeframe, but it has made a significant improvement in our business processes for both staff and students.

We’ve made several enhancements to Resource Booker since it was introduced and it’s continually being developed but one of the biggest achievements from it, is allowing our students to book our classrooms for studying, when they’re not being used for teaching – something they weren’t able to do pre-Covid19.

What has helped you in your career?

I’ve been lucky, that I’ve worked with loads of amazing people, many of whom have taken time to coach and mentor me through the years. In my first role in HE, I worked for two amazing female leaders and they both taught me early on that if you really want something, it is ok to ask for it. I think that set me up to have the confidence to ask for every learning opportunity available to me.  I certainly go by the mantra “if you don’t ask, you won’t get”.

Away from work, what do you do in your free time?

I bake, I salsa dance (Cuban style), try to play the piano and I like a good boxset. Also, thanks to our own IS Director, Claire Taylor, I’m now a bit of a podcast/ audiobook addict.


“Don’t be afraid to try something new - if I hadn’t said yes to learning a new business process for room bookings, I would never have realised that I could timetable!”

Alli Coyle