For us at the MSA Education (Academic Affairs) department, Monday the 14th of March was a D-Day of sorts. That morning a global email was sent out by the Monash Examination Services to inform students that this year, at Monash University we will have night exams. We spent a long time on StalkerSpace that day responding to a myriad of comments showcasing a wide variety of opinions on the changes. Now that the dust has settled, we think it’s worth outlining what the situation is and why the MSA is opposed to the introduction of night exams.
What’s actually going on?
The basics of night exams is this: instead of the normal two exam sessions per day at Caulfield Racecourse, we will now have three. This third session (the night session) will begin at 6pm and finish (ideally) at 8:10pm. It will only be for two hour exams and Monash has stated that no one will get three in one day. Nor will anyone get a night exam and then a morning exam the very next day. We don’t as yet know if you can have a three hour exam in the afternoon session and then a night exam or some other soul/gpa destroying combination.
Why is this happening?
Monash say that night exams are being implemented due to overcapacity. Since the cap on places at universities was removed by the federal government in 2009 (in full in 2012) enrollment numbers have steadily increased. As such, there are more exams that need to be held at the end of each semester, and Monash says they’ve now reached the ceiling for the normal exam period. So now that Monash can’t fit more exams into the normal exam arrangements, something needs to give. Of course we entirely understand that Monash has to do something about the exam ceiling; we’re not unreasonable people. But we believe that making students sit exams at 6pm is not the right solution.
So why does the MSA oppose this?
There are three primary reasons we’re against the introduction of night exams. They come down to transport, safety and concentration.
Transport: Monash University is not an American College where everyone lives in dorms. Nor is Melbourne a small European university town where everyone and everything is nice and compact. It’s a sprawling behemoth, with suburbs stretching over 50km from the CBD, and public transport is not up to scratch. Many students take huge routes of connecting buses, trains and even trams to get to uni each day, and for some it takes over two hours. So straight away, making students who are getting out of an exam past 8 o’clock travel two hours to get home is a bit harsh. Now maybe that wouldn’t be a big deal for some if all services were still running, but again this is Melbourne: they’re not. Most busses stop around 9pm. So if you get on a train from Caulfield station around 8:30, take a trip that’s over thirty minutes and then have to get a bus to get within walking distance of your house you’re probably going to be left in quite a pickle, to say the least. Now for those of you reading this now and thinking, “but heaps of uni students go out at night and have to deal with the same transport issues anyway,” well that’s true but there’s a difference between having to pay for a taxi home after you’ve decided to go out drinking, and having to pay for a taxi/suffer because Monash forces you to sit a night exam. It’s about who should bear responsibility: night exams are not a student’s choice so it’s shouldn’t be their responsibility to ensure that they can easily get home, and Monash can’t change the fact that many won’t be able to.
Safety: There are more issues than just whether your bus runs at night, unfortunately public transport is not always a safe way of travelling, particularly at night. In fact crime on public transport has increased in recent years. Again, even though many students go out at night in their own time, we feel that when the university is making a decision that will impact student safety, it is their responsibility to ensure students’ safety. We know Monash would like to make it safer for students if they could, but they just can’t. And so despite good intentions, night exams simply can’t be done safely.
Concentration: Look to put it simply a lot of people have stated in our survey that they would struggle to concentrate at that time of day, particularly if they’ve had an exam earlier that same day. And if you’re a night owl think about it like this: the night exam time slot is dinner time. Think about how many people are going to be writing with one hand and noisily eating with the other, and that’s just plain annoying.
Whether you think we’re on the money or completely out of touch we want your opinion. Please fill out our survey on night exams by visiting the ‘MSA Education’ page on Facebook. And please feel free to contact the Education (Academic Affairs) Department at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com