Students at the University of Edinburgh often find themselves critical of the University’s academic policies, especially in regards to how disabled and international students are accommodated for. The University has a penchant for failing both groups. Given recent debates regarding the release time of the exam timetables, however, the University has easily met the standards that students should expect.
The University currently has one of the earliest releases of exam timetables in Scotland. Exam timetables have always been one of those enticing policies that all the candidates put on their manifestos, because naturally no one wants them released later. However, it is absolutely detrimental to students that they are released earlier. You have up to two weeks to change your courses, following which you can submit an application for any necessary exam adjustments by week five. Our exam timetables are then released in week six. This arrangement still leaves six weeks’ notice for when your first exams would be. If the University releases them earlier, everything else gets pushed back earlier. Surely we do not want to shorten the time available for students to submit any adjustments to either their course schedule, or their access needs during exams?
You probably do not need an international student to tell you that international flights are usually expensive. Missing from this discussion, though, is the fact that most international students would be booking their flights home before term begins. This is due to the fact that with very few exceptions, it is cheaper to purchase a return aeroplane ticket than it is to purchase two one ways. Now, unless students are willing to give up the ability to switch courses, the timetable will never be released before these return flights are booked.
One possible remedy would be to have the December diet at the beginning of the second semester, in January; but that is a terrible decision. Not just for disabled students, but for anyone. Imagine the exam stress you have now, and then imagine that building up for two months. It would do serious damage to my own mental health and I am positive it is not in the benefit of any student to do this. This also does not solve the issue of the May diet and its exam timetable being released any earlier.
There are so many more pressing issues affecting students that we should be addressing and challenging. How much the University looks at international students as cash cows. How Edinburgh University has taken a morally reprehensible choice to charge present clinical undergrad students over £38,000 this year alone. How great the tendency of our accommodation services is to place international students in the more expensive halls is. How dire the state of support for disabled students is outside of the Disability Service. How fragmented and mangled interdepartmental communication causes administrative issues, which soon become aggravatingly stressful.
There are countless struggles students at the University deal with on a daily basis, struggles that lie beyond the bounds of the acceptable. These issues do not usually resonate immediately with students, as opposed to the more popular policies that you will see on most Sabbatical election posters. If it were possible to make interdepartmental reorganisation sound as popular as ‘cheese ’n’ chips’, I would be rolling around in a pool of gold. If we continue to waste energy and focus on a new release date, which will only benefit the egos of those who continue to campaign for them, then our priorities must be re-examined.