Students can look forward to writing final exams on Saturday nights beginning in December.
“There’s really no choice; we’ve run out of space to schedule exams,” said Russ Isinger, director of academic services.
There are a number of reasons behind the decision. The December exam schedule is shorter than April’s to accommodate Christmas break, with 17 to 18 days in April and only 13 to 14 in December. Secondly, the university has been splitting most of its six credit courses in half, so the number of final exams in December is increasing.
“We now have a situation where we have almost as many exams in December as we have in April,” said Isinger. With only a fixed amount of appropriate space on campus for students to write exams, this has become problematic.
He says the goal was to be able to deal with the increase in exams while still attempting to have exams end as early as possible.
“In December we have to cut it off by the 22nd,” he said.
The university conducted a survey in conjunction with the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union in the spring to determine how students felt about Saturday evening exams.
Of 1,600 respondents, 53.8 per cent said they would be in favour of Saturday evening final exams if it resulted in a more evenly distributed schedule and offered the potential for an earlier end date to the final exam period.
“It’s certainly a trade-off; you’re able to plan more for your Christmas break,” said Warren Kirkland, president of the USSU. “Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Saturday exams, but (”¦) if that’s what the majority of students want, it’s what the majority of students want.”
The university began conducting Friday evening final exams last year. Isinger said he was expecting an uproar after the move but said he didn’t receive a single complaint.
Isinger says they made sure to also look at what other schools were doing before they made the decision.
Of the 37 institutions that responded to the university’s inquiries, he said 24 already held exams on Saturday evenings and three indicated they were moving in that direction. The universities that were using the Saturday night slot are of comparable size to the U of S, like the University of British Columbia, Dalhousie, York, Waterloo and Queen’s.
Isinger insists that Saskatoon transit has a comparable level of service on Saturdays and that campus security actually has more people on patrol during the weekends.
Sunday exams were definitely out of the question because they are specifically forbidden in the University Council’s regulations for religious reasons, says Isinger.
The university also decided to stop scheduling exams in April on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Monday in the future if this holiday falls within the examination period.
photo Robby Davis