York student petitions to ‘make final year’s exams optional’

Over Covid-19 exceptional circumstances

A petition addressed to Professor Charlie Jeffery, the University of York’s Vice-Chancellor has been started by students calling for final years exams and assessments to be made optional due to the Covid-19 situation.

Currently, the petition has almost made it to the target 500 signatures.

On the petition’s online page, the students acknowledge that through moving all teaching and assessment online the “University is attempting to maintain a relatively uninterrupted educational provision” but the move is “insufficient in these exceptional circumstances.”

The petition not only calls for final year exams and assessments to become optional, but for second year students to have exams postponed.  It says:

“During this time of worry and uncertainty, students cannot be expected to concentrate fully on their academic studies and may not have access to resources necessary to complete essays and assignments to the best of their abilities. Particularly where access to archive materials or specialist facilities is impossible due to self-distancing and self-isolation recommendations.”

The University of York’s decision to move all teaching and assessment online has been called “not sufficient” in the petition, as it “cannot replace face-to-face teaching.”

The fairness of this style of proposed online exam has also been questioned by the petition:

“The university cannot ensure that the proposed online exams are sat fairly, thus compromising their value.”

Also referencing the strike action earlier this year, the petition states students “have not received the education” they are paying for due to disruption caused through “Union strikes throughout the academic year.”

Instead of taking exams and assessments online, the petition encourages the university to allow students “to graduate with their current grades or to postpone their exams/assignments if they wish to improve their grade at a later date.”

You can find the petition here.

The petition has been created following the University of York’s decision to move all lectures online for the summer term. The university also chose to move all exams and assessments online due to risks posed by Covid-19 to students if exams were to be sat in the conventional way.