How 3rd Year Physics Students Are Looking To Make A Difference
Firstly, before we go any further we want to clearly highlight that we understand this is currently a very difficult and trying time for students, lecturers, and the university body alike. This situation does not discriminate, it targets us all unilaterally and we understand that many of us are separated from our families many are dealing with difficult situations and we all have to learn to adapt. We would like it to be known we hold sympathy and patience for the university body for reaching a decision.
However, we believe there have been a sequence of errors, poor judgement and lack of communication from the faculty of Physics within the uni that needs to be addressed.
Although the current situation has put a large strain on the uni and their resources we, as a student body, do not believe this is reason to neglect and ignore the student voice and opinion.
This article has been written with 3rd Year Physics students in mind. However, if you have also been affected but are in a different school we also encourage you to email your head of faculty.
We Encourage All 3rd Year Physics Students To Email The Heads Of Faculty
On the 15th of May 2020, a faculty wide email was sent to all Physics students outlining the course of action the university was taking for the upcoming summer examination period. This email came just 2 weeks before the first exam would be held and outlined that only a single extra hour would be allocated to each student to give time to:
- Scan answers
- Collect all scans into 1 pdf document
- Upload the solutions to the university systems
However, no additional time has been allocated to account for:
- Several courses have been heavily impacted by Industrial action and/or the current situation. In many cases zero contact with lecturers was had, and no in-person teaching happened
- The complete lack of problems classes that are an essential part of learning and understanding material
- Contact with personal tutors has been severely impacted
- Many lectures were cancelled
- All communal study areas have been closed, many students do not have ideal or safe working environments at home
It is evident many students feel they are spending upwards of £9k+ a year on an education, that this year has been severely disrupted, not excluding the missed hours of lecturing due to strikes. It is the general consensus that the uni does not take the larger student bodies opinion into consideration, and follows a "non-advertised" discussion forum to make important decisions.
Why The '1 Extra Hour' Discriminates
In the above section we have outlined just a few reasons that a single extra hour does not take into account any other external events that have greatly impacted teaching.
The following presents a few reasons why only having a single extra hour to upload documents heavily discriminates against the entire Physics body and isn't representative of a fair system that works for everyone across the university.
- Students in different time zones have been told "Some of you are in time zones where the time
difference is so large that this is not practical; we don’t want you starting the exam before 8am or
after 6pm, so please let us know if this is the case and we will allow you to sit your exams at a
reasonable hour". Although this appears to allow leniency for international students, it also opens up avenues for malpractice and collusion between students sitting the exam in the UK and students sitting the exams abroad hours or days later. A fair and reasonable solution would be to hold the exam over a 24 hour period.
- Not only are a large number of Physics students across all years taking an exam on a single day attempting to upload their answers within a single hour, there is the compound affect of thousands of other students from different faculties doing the same. The extra hour allocated to account for this is not reasonable to ensure all students, some with poor connections, to upload their answers promptly.
- Severe lack of communication within the faculty. Despite there being 8 weeks between the end of last term and now, an update email with exam times and the approach to uploading answers was only released 2 weeks before the first exam is scheduled to be held. Other universities across the country have kept students up to date and in the loop way in advance to give them suitable time to prepare for this new form of examination.
- Different faculties across the university are giving students vastly different time scales to complete the exams, some range up to as high as 1 week, while the average appears to be 24-48 hours. The School Of Physics have only allocated 1 extra hour. This extra hour is only designated for uploading the answers, and no consideration for extra time to complete the exam has been taken. All students access the exam paper at the same time, a password is emailed to each student to download the paper and begin the exam. No extra time has been given to account for the time to receive the password by email, download the document at the same time as every other student (putting heavy traffic onto the university system) and get ready to respond to the question.
- Students who were on the year in industry took online open book examinations back in January 2020 were given 24 hours to complete the paper and upload their answers. It is unreasonable to allow 24 hours in January, and expect the same type of exam to be completed in 2 hours with 1 extra hour of upload time in this current climate.
- Sitting examinations at home will never provide ideal conditions; many students live in busy households.
- These are final examinations for hundreds of third years, exams that will go on and determine their final grade and impact their future careers. Many students will prepare and try their best to perform at the top level to come out with a well representative grade. With the current pressure the university has put on all of the students, it can not be reasonably assumed that the excess stress and anxiety caused will not affect the exam performance of hundreds of students.
What Can You Do Now?
Wether you are a 3rd year Physics student. Or even if you are studying a course within the school of physics or even a concerned parent of carer. We ask everyone who has been affected by this to please email the head of faculty and the vice chancellor expressing these concerns.
We understand that for some of you this may not directly affect you, you may have fast internet connections, and you may be ok with the stress of examinations. But we ask you think of your peers, there are hundreds of unheard voices that find it hard to speak up. Hundreds of people that will greatly be affected by the outcome of these summer exams.
So if not for yourself, if you agree with the points outlined within this article please contact the head of faculty on their behalf.
To make it easier for those of you that struggle to express your opinions in an email, or are scared to do so. We have prepared an open email that hundreds of other have used that you can simply download, copy and paste into an email. If you would prefer to express your concerns in a personal email that is also more than ok.
Download Open Letter
We encourage all students, parents and guardians and send this open letter to the heads of faculty