Academic Committee meeting tackles exam date release

A special Academic Committee meeting was held last Tuesday October 14 to address the contentious issue of revising the University’s examination and assessment procedures.

The meeting, which was open to the student public, discussed possible solutions to the exam dates release controversy, which included the proposition of alternative schedules for this winter’s exam period, the adoption of examination procedures modelled on Stanford and Yale Universities, and a push for other forms of assessment like take-home exams.

The meeting briefly touched upon the idea of a programme in which students could receive course credits for their extra-curricular activities, but was postponed due to time constraints.

Dash Sekhar, Vice President Academic Affairs for Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA), opened the meeting by explaining the reasons and methodology behind the current system used by the University for exam scheduling.

He then presented the complications the Sabbatical Team faced in their attempt to secure the earlier release of exam dates, before opening the discussion to the floor.

Objections arose to various caveats of proposed solutions, causing some impassioned disagreements amongst audience members – the constant to-and-fro of the one and only microphone only added to the frustration.

Following a number of strongly-worded comments from the audience over provisions for disabled students, Maxwell Greenberg, creator of the petition for the earlier release of exam dates and former International Students Action Group Convenor for EUSA, said: “It’s unfair to say moving up exam dates is about anyone’s egos […] in the petition this is something we identified as an ironclad line that we will not cross, we do not want to f*** up things for disabled students.”

Friction over the release of exam dates has been building since February of this year when a petition with over 2,700 signatures pushing for the earlier release of exam dates was submitted to University Principal Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea.

In September of this year EUSA published a statement announcing they would no longer pursue the fulfilment of the petition by the University as such an action would not accommodate students with disabilities or those who require learning adjustments.

The statement was met with criticism from students and EUSA officials alike, and notably Greenberg, now a EUSA Trustee.

EUSA has since retracted its original statement, promising “to continue to look for a solution” which led to this week’s special Academic Affairs meeting.

Due to a scheduling conflict with the concurrent Scottish midterm break all non-student university officials were absent from the event, despite the stated purpose of the meeting being “an opportunity to allow students to interact directly with representatives from both the University and EUSA.”

All sides expressed disappointment over the attendance of the meeting but remained optimistic that the continuation of the conversation would prove beneficial for all students.

Another Academic Committee meeting will be held next week that will include the absent non-student University officials, but this meeting will not be open to the student public and will be restricted to EUSA representatives.

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