The Economics Department has been forced to heed to pressure from students who voiced their outrage after being told to wait an unprecedented nineteen weeks for exam results.
Students who sat papers in week one of this term had been informed that the results would not be released until week three of the summer term, leaving them to wait nineteen weeks for their grades to be announced. Second year Economics student Alex Fink described the situation as “utterly ridiculous and very annoying.
“We took our exams on the first day of term, and we are all waiting for the results before we do our next set,” he said. “I went into the Economics Department on 26th February and asked when the results were going to be released, and they said that they’ll be released by week 3 next term. That is 19 weeks in total,” Fink added.
Following pressure from students, the department has since confirmed that the results are to be released three weeks into the start of the Easter holidays, reducing the wait to the approved 13 weeks. Economics Department representative John Bone, who also chairs Economics staff-student forums, said: “Our department policy is that results are made available by three weeks into the vacation following the assessment, or five weeks in the case of assessments at the end of term. So this is a maximum of 13 weeks… If you really are having to wait 19 weeks then we are not following our own policy.”
Bone, however, is aware that the new situation is still not adequate. “I know that this [maximum of 13 weeks] is still not ideal for students,” said Bone, “but we can certainly try to find ways of reducing it further.” Students, however, are still angry at the long delay. Oli Blair, a second year PEP student said: “I’ve been a student in the economics department now for approaching five terms and in that time not had one single mark for an essay. I think it is appalling that I am more than half way through my degree and have no indication of how good I am at Economics. How can they expect me to develop in the subject if I have no indication of how I am currently doing?”
The issue appears to be relatively isolated, however, with students from other departments not suffering the setbacks shared by those studying Economics. “History students, who outnumber those students taking accountancy modules, had a 3,000 word essay submitted and had the results over a week ago,” said Fink, “and [the Economics Department], cannot return an hour long paper to us.”
Speculation amongst students as to the cause of the delay has lead to rumours of financial restraints and a lack of PhD students to mark the papers. However, Bone has put the problem down to “the current structure of the teaching year.”
“It is difficult to guarantee a shorter period than this [thirteen weeks] because there is no designated marking peiod after these assessments,” he said. “We are straight into teaching, which in the case of assessments on large modules can mean that htere is no time to mark them properly until the end of the term. This can lead to quite a long wait.”
The problem appears to be a long term issue; at the start of the academic year, results from an independent survey of student satisfaction conducted by YUSU revealed particular dissatisfaction amongst students studying in the Economics department regarding departmental freeback. Almost 25% of student participants described feedback levels from their departments as “poor” or “appalling.” This figure comprised a large number of PEP, Politics, Electronics and Economics students.
Having brought the issue to both to the Economics Student-Staff Forum and to the YUSU Senate, Fink is determined to continue to press the deparment for answers. “I am proceeding down the formal roots to try and get the University to release results. However, failing this, there will be action,” he said.