The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Board has today voted to implement a five per cent penalty per calendar day for late assignments from 2018 onwards.
Previously, FASS students lost only two per cent per business day. That meant that taking an extra weekend to complete an assignment only resulted in a 2 per cent penalty, but under the new model, students will lose marks for every calendar day their assignment is late.
Students will also now automatically receive a mark of zero if assignments are submitted more than ten days late. In the Education Committee report, FASS Associate Dean (Education) Alyson Simpson explained that if a submission was more than ten days late, there was an expectation that the student would be experiencing issues that should allow them to apply for special consideration or simple extensions.
FASS students will also be required to attend 90 per cent of timetabled activities instead of 80 per cent. However, they will still need to miss more than 50 per cent of classes before being automatically required to meet with faculty staff.
These changes bring FASS in line with the Faculty of Education and Social Work (FESW), with which it will merge next year.
Since April, when Honi first reported these changes were under consideration, a Late Penalty Working Group was formed from all faculties and schools but met only once. The consensus was that a baseline penalty of 10 per cent per calendar day was acceptable, but there was resistance from FASS, who also represented FESW and the Sydney College of the Arts.
The FASS Board’s decision to penalise students for each calendar day instead of business day – which was not originally part of the amendment – may reflect a strategic decision to placate the University. Otherwise, the University may use its Academic Board to overrule individual faculty decisions and implement a university-wide penalty of 10 per cent per calendar day based on the consensus of the Late Penalty Working Group.
“The University has an aesthetic preference for standardisation that comes at the cost of sanity and student welfare,” said Max Hall, student member of the FASS Faculty Board. “A 10 per cent or greater per day late penalty is needlessly punitive for any faculty and should be resisted.”
The Education Committee report implied that the reason for general faculty support was that a 10 per cent per day baseline was more lenient for many students. In fact, this penalty would only be more lenient in very particular cases, such as Health Sciences students who submit assignments exactly one day late. That is because they are currently penalised 20 per cent for an assignment submitted between one and three days late. For the majority of USyd students, a 10 per cent baseline would be significantly worse.