UU's resit policy is in need of reform

Photo: DUB/Maarten Hartman

UU's resit policy is not organised well enough. Students who don't obtain at least a four have to wait a year until they can complete the course. Additionally, those who do get a passing grade are not allowed to retake the exam to try to get a better grade. Finally, if a student is demonstrably ill at the time of the exam and fails to attend, the resit period will no longer apply.

Students pay good money to study at UU, so it is only fair for the university to offer them a good resit policy. The current policy adopted by Utrecht University is outdated and the discussion on this issue should be revisited.

Whereas in 2020, the discussion about the resit arrangements still somewhat existed, this seems to have disappeared entirely in 2021 and 2022. In the past, a couple of teachers published articles on DUB arguing against more flexible arrangements. That is understandable since they are the ones who have ensured that the courses fall under the strict regime and fear increased work pressure. However, that should not be a reason to obstruct the improvement of the current resit policy. One of the consequences of the arrangement in place is that the student who has a bad day is disadvantaged. The counterargument that midterm exams prevent this from happening is not valid as these exams often do not count heavily enough to outweigh an extremely poor grade on the final exam. Therefore, if a student gets a failing grade, no matter how severe, they should always be given a second chance.

It is equally bad that students who get a slight passing grade are not allowed to take the exam again. This could motivate students to get good grades. In some Master's programmes, the chance of passing is smaller if you only obtain the average grade (six). It should be possible to resit a six for that reason alone!

Compulsory attendance
Another requirement to retake an exam is compulsory attendance. With a non-passing grade and insufficient attendance, a student loses the right to a resit. This must ensure that students attend the seminars, but for what? The student already spends money to take the exams and get a diploma. I understand that many students learn more if they are present during the seminar, but that is not the case for every student. If it is your case, then you go to class. If not, then you don’t go. We are not in primary school anymore and are sensible enough to decide whether the seminars are useful. In my opinion, the consequences of absence are senseless because if you fail multiple courses due to absence, you feel it in your wallet. That's consequence enough!

Illness in the pandemic
It is also weird that students who are ill at the time of an exam lose the right to a resit. Perhaps this measure made sense before the outbreak of the coronavirus, but now there is a new reality. The university must ensure that students take responsibility and stay at home when infected. With the current policy, UU facilitates the spread of the virus as there are infected students who go to the campus to take the exam anyway, looking to ensure a resit later. The regulations should change, therefore. Students who miss an exam because of a legitimate and verifiable reason should be given the opportunity to take it at another time and, if necessary, resit this exam as well.

Last but not least, the university itself would also benefit from changing the resit possibilities. Students would get higher grades and finish courses quicker, not to mention that, by abolishing the attendance requirement, UU would give students more freedom to decide how often they want to attend class, which would make Utrecht University more attractive to prospective students. 

Tags: herkansing | exams