University announces changes to mitigation and extension policies
The University of Exeter has changed its mitigation and extension policies for this academic year. The extension period, which previously gave students an extra week to complete their assignments, has now been changed to 72 hours.
A spokesperson for the University has stated that “during the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University trialled giving students four self-certified deadline extensions of up to one week. After discussing with a range of stakeholders, including the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union, we have decided to retain the benefits of self-certification, whilst reducing such extensions to three calendar days from this term.” This in turn gives students a shorter time frame to complete their tasks than in the past. This could also potentially cause increased stress for students, especially for those who struggle with mental health issues.
Exeposé asked students what their attitudes were towards the changes to policies surrounding mitigation and extensions. When asked how students feel about the extension period changing from one week to only 72 hours, the overall reaction was predominantly negative. Many students commented on how this change will greatly increase their stress levels, especially with the number of assignments at the end of each term. The word most often used by students on this matter was that they felt very “stressed”. One student suggested that they liked the week extension “because I tend to have a lot of assignments due at once, 72 hours isn’t enough to produce my best work”.
When asked how students feel about the extension period changing from one week to only 72 hours, the overall reaction was predominantly negative
Other students felt “disappointed and confused” about the University’s choice to make these changes and that they didn’t “feel like this would benefit people as much, [it] slightly defeats the idea of having an extension”. Another student also explained that they would “feel a great deal more stress and pressure over my work that could be avoided. I would be stressed also that my assignments couldn’t be completed to my best ability with just a 72-hour extension”.
We also asked students whether this change in the extension periods would negatively affect their mental health. All the students who came forward agreed that their mental health would be affected by these changes. Students highlighted how the previous one-week extension period gave them enough time to not only complete their academic work but also to gather themselves mentally.
A student commented that having one-week extensions last year was a “lifeline for me,” elaborating that they “didn’t have the courage or mental capacity to contact wellbeing to set up an ILP or formal mitigation, so the one-week extensions were so helpful.” Another student also shared that they believe that the 72-hour extension period doesn’t give students enough time to ensure they can look after themselves or to start their work on assignments when they are in a better state of mind.
A student commented that having one-week extensions last year was a “lifeline for me”
Although students did share their concerns with these changes affecting their mental health negatively, one student expressed that the 72-hour extension period “would be better than nothing” and that they “don’t think it would make much difference.”
When asked whether the University’s changes to the mitigation and extension policies would affect their decision to take on an extension, many students had similar reactions. Some students agreed that they would feel “more anxious to ask for an extension” as it causes “greater stress” and provides “no opportunity to take it slow”. Additionally, the stress of deadlines was a common concern for most students, particularly as “most deadlines coincide with each other” thus causing further “panic and stress.” Several students also suggested that with the 72-hour extension period, “it would almost not be worth it” and that they “probably wouldn’t bother unless absolutely necessary, three days doesn’t make that much of a difference”.
Additionally, most students also reflected that they thought the University have made the wrong decision in considering changing the mitigation and extension policies. One student pointed out that the University has taken “three steps backwards” with its recent decision. Other students commented that the change from a week to 72 hours for extensions was a “drastic change” and they “don’t think the 72 hours will benefit many.” However, one student did reflect that this change in a smaller period for extensions might “help people who tend to procrastinate their work, perhaps reducing further stress” and that “the limited time may help.”
One student pointed out that the University has taken “three steps backwards” with its recent decision
A spokesperson for the University elaborated on these policy changes: “This is so that we can ensure students receive feedback on their assessments in good time – which is crucial for their learning experience.
“We are finalising the details of the new policy and information will be sent out to students next week, along with links to further information and FAQs. Any student experiencing extenuating circumstances can also apply for an additional extension through the standard mitigation process.”
Article from print issue 735.