Exam timetables have been released a week earlier this year, following years of lobbying from successive Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) sabbatical teams.
The decision is the result of an ongoing debate between key players at the University on whether a date change would be viable.
Two issues that University figures have raised are that timetables cannot be created until after the two-week period that students have to change courses, and that the school needs to account for disabled student’s needs by giving them enough time to declare their disabilities before schedules are set.
Speaking to The Student, Gavin Douglas, Edinburgh’s Deputy Secretary of Student Experience, said: “We can start to build the exam timetable in week four, while seeking to ensure that it meets important objectives, such as minimising the number of back-to-back exams that students have.
“This is a complex task. Schools also need time to check the draft timetable before it is published. This part of the process takes another two and a half weeks. Only then can we publish the timetable.”
When asked about how the needs of students with disabilities fits into that process, he remarked: “Work on assessing disabled student needs takes place in parallel to the activity above, not after it.”
In conversation with The Student, EUSA International Students Convener, Montana Kimel, said: “I think that this is a step in the right direction, there were many different parties involved in pushing this issue with the University and I truly appreciate their efforts! I believe that it is progress, that there is a lot more work to be done, and it may not be easy work but it needs to happen.
“There are two roadblocks to this issue making progress, first to allow students to change courses, and second to allow for students with disabilities to get accommodations and adjustments during the exam schedule.
“I am not saying that either of these things are not important, I just want to emphasise that there are ways to accommodate both issues and get our exam date earlier.
“As a student with disabilities I know how important it is to allow students enough time to declare their disabilities and get the help they need. Universities all over the world are able to do those three things simultaneously, and Edinburgh should follow suit.
“This is an issue that the international student group conveners have been pushing for over the last few years. Last year a petition signed by 5,000 students was submitted to the University.
“This is something that affects everyone, home students and international students. It is in everyone’s benefit to find a solution, not just for travel cost but for general planning and organization around exams.
“This is amazing progress, it shows the University is willing to hear our concerns but ultimately more needs to be done!”
International students have expressed their support of the earlier release of exam dates.
“In the past I have had to pay way more than necessary for my flights because of how late exam dates have been released.” Ryan Walsh, a Politics student from the USA told The Student.
“The exam date release change is a huge help, as an international student it makes a big difference to be able to schedule my flight home earlier at a lower rate.”
EUSA President Jonny Ross-Tatam also discussed the situation with The Student:
“I was involved in the campaign last year. 5,000 students signed the petition, so I was very aware it was a big issue for a lot of students. I’m glad that students’ campaigning and hard work has made a difference. I can’t wait to keep working together to get more things done this year.
“[Change is] definitely conceivable. But it would require a lot more work to find a solution that would not compromise students with disabilities, so let’s keep this conversation going.”
Image: University of Edinburgh