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Students sign petitions to make year-end exams optional

08 November 2015, 17:59 Jenna Etheridge, News24

Cape Town – Thousands of Cape Town students have signed petitions to make year-end exams optional in the light of recent disruptions.

The first petition asked that University of Cape Town students be given the “reasonably fair” option to have their semester mark used as a final course mark. 

At least 3 600 people had added their names to the petition by noon on Sunday.

Activities at universities around the country have been disrupted following student protests over tuition fees and the outsourcing of workers.

Molupi Motsoeneng, a supporter of the petition, wrote: “These disruptions have been disturbing mentally. We keep on getting into studying zone and once we in, we forcefully get dragged out. Not cool considering exam stress on its own is a lot”.

Some students felt disadvantaged because all UCT libraries were closed at the weekend due to protest action.

“Some of us don’t have access to a pro-learning environment to study at outside of UCT,” wrote supporter Sam Burditt.

One student wrote that students could not be expected to write exams “after facing police brutality”.

A similar petition for University of the Western Cape (UWC) students garnered at least 3 300 signatures by noon on Sunday.

According to a letter by UCT registrar Hugh Amoore earlier this week, certain undergraduate students were given the option to defer their November exams to January next year.

Unless students elected the deferred option, they had to write according to the rescheduled November exam timetable, he said.

The cut-off for this option was Friday, November 6.

UCT exams started on Tuesday, while UWC listed three exam periods on its website that students could choose.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Max Price said in a statement on Saturday night that the university was committed to proceeding with exams.

“In the event of the disruption of any examination, we will do everything reasonably possible to provide for an alternative examination within the examination period,” he said.

Disciplinary action would be taken against students who disrupted exams and they could be expelled, he said.

Contracting companies were required to do the same with disruptive workers and this could lead to dismissals, said Price.

“It would be extremely unfortunate if workers were to jeopardise the university's commitment to absorbing them back into its structure by acting in this way.”

The university was “deeply indebted” to those who were working to resolve the issues.

“I assure you that we are acutely aware of the frustration, anxiety and the impact of the uncertainty on the campus community."

- News24


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