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Why whack SWOTVAC?

Last week, Monash University released a new policy which allows units to get exemptions so assessments can be scheduled during SWOTVAC. As you are reading this article, Monash University’s academic and teaching staff are being permitted to schedule tests, presentations and assignments during your valuable one-week study period

Since the start of MSA’s 2006 campaign for reintroducing SWOTVAC to its later 2010 success in extending it to 5-days, it has been a tough and draining fight for the students. Monash University’s release of this new policy has added another blow to the diminishing relationship between administration and the students, says Nic Kimberley, MSA Education Officer (Academic Affairs).

Earlier in November, Nic, along with a group of other students were invited to attend a 30 minute ‘consultation’ with Professor Darrell Evans, the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) and 2 members of the university policy team. The students were asked to comment on this policy. Nic articulated the views of a large number of students to whom he had spoken to prior to this consultation, and made it clear that the proposed changes to SWOTVAC were unacceptable to the students he represented.

“In the view of the students, any changes to the SWOTVAC policy in 2014 is non-negotiable”.

Upon such feedback, the University raised concerns about students who have to wait one week in order to complete their final assessments due to the SWOTVAC period. This sole reason can hardly justify why the majority of other students have to face increased pressure to complete additional assessments during SWOTVAC, whilst preparing for the upcoming crucial exam period.

SWOTVAC is more than merely a one-week break; it is a week where students can reprogram themselves from the usual university mayhem and and prepare themselves for the upcoming exam period.

So who will suffer the most due to this appalling policy change? Students living out of home, international students, students with limited support networks and students with unavoidable work commitments.

This policy places additional emotional, mental and physical pressure on each and every student who attends this University during an already stressful exam preparation period.

Nic said, “I cannot believe that Professor Evans and his Policy team have blatantly ignored such explicit views and needs of the students”. This shows Monash University’s limited understanding of the pressures associated with the current study load of each student based on the continuous changes of the curriculum and policies.

This is about student welfare and ensuring that those that are disadvantaged are not further disadvantaged by a knee-jerk decision made by Monash University without due consideration to its impact to students.

In order to support MSA’s snap campaign to these changes, please visit the Save SWOTVAC Campaign facebook page https://www.facebook.com/saveswotvacatmonash  AND

Sign the petition: http://tinyurl.com/SaveSWOTVAC

About Shalaka Parekh

I’m Shalaka, a 4th year Science/Law student who plans to forever stay in university. Apart from being a workhorse, I enjoy rolling on Menzies lawn, staring at distant air particles and drinking icy cold Daiquiris. I’m always up for a friendly chat, if you spot me around campus please come say hello!

Shalaka Parekh

The author Shalaka Parekh

I’m Shalaka, a 4th year Science/Law student who plans to forever stay in university. Apart from being a workhorse, I enjoy rolling on Menzies lawn, staring at distant air particles and drinking icy cold Daiquiris. I’m always up for a friendly chat, if you spot me around campus please come say hello!

7 Comments

  1. Well when exactly would these tests, assignments, and presentations be held if not during SWOTVAC? The first week of exams? I’d much rather submit work during SWOTVAC than have to worry about assignments and exams simultaneously. I guess i’m one in a minority of students who feels relieved to find out their assignments are due during SWOTVAC rather than exam weeks or the preceding last week of classes, which often feels the most hectic.

    1. Dear Fabrice Wilmann,

      Please get your facts right before you blab here. I have not encountered ANY assessment/assignment due on the first week exam for my 2 years studying in Monash. There is no such thing! The due dates are usually between Week 1- 10, rarely during week 11-12.

      1. Please get my facts rights? I am speaking from personal experience here. I had an essay due for a unit last semester on the very first day of exams. I would caution you to not be so narrow-minded as to assume that your experience of university is the same as everyone else’s. There are many different faculties and an even greater number of units that do not necessarily follow the same rulebook when it comes to assessments.

    2. I can identify with you Fabrice.

      I am currently completing a Journalism/Science degree and I always have two science-based exams during the examination period and two major journalistic pieces due in the week before SWOT-VAC (no exams in journalism). Although I appreciate having as much time as possible to study for my exams, I was relieved this semester to have one journalism assessment piece (researched-based) due during SWOT-VAC. I would MUCH prefer this than having it due during the examination period.

      It is reasonable to presume that this issue will divide many students and staff, but we do need to take responsibility of our own learning and how we in fact manage our individual assessment calendar (along with our employment and social requirements during the semester and leading up to exams).

      Shouting comments in such a forum that claim to be representative of a majority is just ignorant, as is a person who is asserting to fight for what they “believe is in the best interest of students”. It certainly isn’t in my best interest, but then again that’s just my opinion, and who am I to speak for anyone else?

  2. Hey there,

    I am personally for assessments being either due in the 12 weeks of semester or in the examination period. The reason for this is because I like to use SWOTVAC to study for exams, complete any assessments that are due during the examination period, and to simply relax. Also, I’m not opposed to finish all assignments in 12 weeks. I kinda like the relief of not having units to worry about after the teaching period concludes.

    SWOTVAC was designed to be a period without any classes or assessments due, where students spent the week studying for examinations or completing their major written assessment that is due in SWOTVAC. It was not designed to be a period where students have to hand major assessments in, come in to uni and do oral examinations, and complete laboratory tasks. Under the new rules, all of these assessments may be put during SWOTVAC. SWOTVAC turns into a much more stressful period, with a completely different purpose and dynamic.

    It is also possible that staff will increasingly put assessments during SWOTVAC as a result of this change. This may mean that students could have two, three, or four assessments due in the one week. The allowance of assessments during this period certainly opens it up to be an assessment completion week.

    I do also have concerns about the slippery slope aspect. How long will it be before unit coordinators start pushing for revision sessions to be run during SWOTVAC? Slowly SWOTVAC is losing its purpose, and I hope that classes are not next to run during this week of semester.

    The other important aspect to SWOTVAC is work. As a student from a background where working part-time is essential to living in Melbourne for uni, I would often prioritise the last few weeks of semester where it is busier (with assessments, tests and revision classes), so that I can work more during SWOTVAC (balancing out my work hours). If assessments are also due in SWOTVAC, students who also work around this schedule will be disadvantaged significantly.

    I’m not opposed to people handing in their assessments during SWOTVAC, I just think that the week should remain exempt from having assessments due. If students wish to organise themselves so that assignments are handed in during SWOTVAC, good on them. But students who value SWOTVAC as a week of study should not be disadvantaged as a result.

  3. This article is terribly uninformed and biased. I was on the LTC which approved this policy and it is for extremely good reasons. (It’s strange, too, that MSA representatives knew about and even lent their approval to these changes in the broader consultation process and now, when it is implemented, take it as an opportunity to attack the administration.)
    First to note is the stringent and specific criteria required for an exemption to be approved – this is not an alteration of the general rule.
    Second, the LTC and student fora heard many examples of students in courses who would benefit from such an exemption in various ways. In almost all cases this benefit was found in units which incorporated a practical or research components. Chief among the examples were from units in music, the arts, languages, passport units, and research- or project-based units. Many of the post-graduate cases also didn’t have end-of-semester exams, making the rule completely meaningless.
    Something to additionally consider is that the previous version of this policy had not been updated since before the standard semester lengths were changed from 13 to 12 weeks.
    Note, again, this is not some broad-brush rule which tramples over the old one, but rather a carefully considered and specific amendment which will help a specific cohort of students.

    1. Hey Tom,

      I would be curious as to know which MSA representative you are talking about supported the change to SWOTVAC? If you are talking about me, then it is completely dishonest to suggest that I supported the change. I made very clear that the consultation I undertook argued against assessments in SWOTVAC. What concerns me is that your attack on the MSA just seems like personal anger, not based on any truth.

      I doubt that we are going to agree on this. I don’t believe that the changes benefit the majority of courses, yet the changes have the ability to affect every course. I think that the best thing to do is to put the new clause into this discussion so that readers can interpret it themselves, since you clearly support that changes and I clearly do not. Here is the new rule:

      6.4. No assessment task may be due within the SWOT-Vac period. Exceptions may be made by the Associate Dean (Education) for major research projects or theses; assessment tasks that involve a practical component, such as computer simulations or laboratory work; those which students are required to present in person; or where the final assessment tasks are not examinations across the majority of units in a course in that teaching period.

      On a side-note, the MSA will continue with its campaign. We do not believe that this is a good change. I have explained above why I believe this. I stand firmly behind this campaign, and will fight for what I believe is in the best interest of students.

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