Dear students and colleagues
The Senate executive convened yesterday, 14 November to discuss the conditions for granting deferral of exams for the November exam session, recognising that there are students who feel psychologically traumatised by the protests to the extent that this would affect their performance in the exams.
Only the Senate Deferred Exams Committee (DEC) is authorised to grant deferred exams. The criteria that they consider are in handbook 3 – rule G27 and G28. In addition, however, it has been agreed that the DEC will favourably consider applications for deferring one or more exams on the grounds of protest-related psychological stress. An application on these grounds needs to have evidence of the applicant’s mental state from a registered health professional (for example, a Student Wellness Service (SWS) practitioner, a doctor or an appropriately qualified social worker).
If a student has previously been assessed by a health professional (at SWS or elsewhere), they need only provide the relevant form completed by their health professional – this does not require a further assessment or counselling session and therefore no appointment needs to be made.
If a student has not previously been seen by the health professional or the SWS, they will need to make an appointment to be assessed, after which the relevant form (ACA44 or SWS DE001) will be completed. The SWS will do everything possible to ensure that the appointment is offered in time to be submitted to the DEC before the relevant exam. Currently the SWS waiting time for an appointment is a few days. If, however, an appointment cannot be offered in time for the exam, then the student should immediately submit to the DEC the proof that an appointment has been made (for a date after the exam) and the DEC will in the meantime accept this as proof of the student’s distress and will consider this favourably. If a deferral is granted on this basis, it will be revoked should the appointment not be kept and the relevant form not be submitted.
Students may also apply for a deferred exam after the exam – there is a seven-day window after the date of the exam.
For exams over the next two days (15 and 16 November), since it may be impossible to get proof of having made an appointment at SWS or with another health practitioner in time for the DEC to consider, the DEC will consider applications retrospectively, ie after the exam has occurred, provided the same requirements above have been met.
Finally, we urge all students to think carefully before applying for a deferred exam and not to underestimate the challenges of writing a deferred exam. Being away from active studying for over two months (mid-November to mid-January), trying to work at home with other distractions over the holiday period, not having peers and other students around to help understand and master the work and maintain study discipline, and the more compressed time period during which deferred exams are written, are all factors that make it harder to perform well in deferred exams.
If a student is unable to take the deferred exam in January for any reason (including a recurrence of a health problem), there is no further opportunity. There are no supplementary exams for deferred exams.
Dr Karen van Heerden
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