The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) has delayed making a decision on a proposed increase to late assessment penalties following discussions at its most recent Faculty Board meeting.
Honi reported on Thursday, April 27 that FASS was considering increasing late penalties from two per cent to five per cent per working day, which would mean students automatically fail assessments handed in more than 10 days late.
However, Students’ Representative Council (SRC) General Secretary Daniel Ergas told Honi, “After a long discussion, the chair of the meeting took a straw poll which indicated the increase did not have the support required to pass”.
According to a University spokesperson, the current penalty is “anomalously low in relation to the practices of other Faculties and is not an effective disincentive for the late submission of work”.
They said an increase to five per cent would bring the Faculty in line with “the minimum penalty most commonly applied across the University”.
While supporters of the change believe an increase in penalties will assist the organisational habits of students, Ergas claims such arguments are “out of touch with students’ actual experiences”.
In his opinion, the penalties will disproportionately penalise international students and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds who are most likely to submit assessments late due to external pressures of living costs.
SRC President Isabella Brook shared these sentiments, suggesting the move would target vulnerable students who are “already under immense pressure to meet inordinate living costs and should not be unfairly punished”.
Additionally, some academics and student representatives raised implications of more significant late penalties considering reported failures of the current special considerations system.
FASS student representative Max Hall said, “students who ought to receive special consideration but are deterred by a draconian system often rely on minimal FASS late penalties to survive academically”.
Although the decision has been pushed back, Ergas claims “the fight isn’t over yet…several staff members indicated their preference to increase the penalty to 10 or 20 per cent and its likely a similar proposal will come up at the next meeting.”
At this stage, it is unclear whether the change will be implemented, with the possibility of a vote at the next FASS board meeting on June 9.