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New replacement exam dates after ‘unsalvageable’ law exam integrity breach

The first replacement exam will be released on 19-21 December, the second paper will be available between 19-21 January next year and a third paper available for completion between 13-15 February.

The Sydney University Law School has provided students with more replacement exam options after their ill-fated criminal law take-home exam was withdrawn and replaced following international media attention.

All students will be taking a replacement 48-hour take-home exam scheduled for release at 9am on 28 November for submission at 9:15am on 30 November this year. 

Three further sets of replacement papers have been scheduled where a student is granted Special Consideration. The first will be released at 9am between 19-21 December, the second paper will be available between 19-21 January 2023 and a third paper available for completion between 13-15 February before classes commence for Semester 1 2023.      

The University has also agreed to expedite the processing of all special considerations applications for the criminal law exam.

The initial November dates attracted student ire as they were the sole dates provided, and clashed with students’ work and travel commitments.

More than 70 students from the cohort complained to Sydney Law School that the faculty’s original decision was “completely unreasonable”.

“A nine-day release assessment during STUVAC is in no way comparable to a forty-eight hour release assessment occurring outside of the exam period. I feel that this decision carries with it a severe academic disadvantage to students,” a uniform email from affected students read. 

“The expectation for students to be able to block out the forty-eight hours required to complete the task at just over two weeks’ notice, during a time outside of the designated exam period, seems completely unreasonable.”

In a course wide email, unit coordinator Dr Tanya Mitchell said: “We are conscious that many students had already dedicated considerable time and effort to the assessment and understand and sympathise with your frustration and disappointment.”

“Our first and foremost concern is to alleviate the distress and limit the adverse impact of these challenging and unanticipated circumstances on you all,” Mitchell said.

The Sydney Morning Herald published the initial exam paper in its entirety following allegations from a student, Freya Leach, that a character in the problem question was intended as a reference to her. The Law School determined that the media coverage during the take-home completion period meant that the integrity of the exam had been breached.

“Our sincerest apologies again that we could not salvage this assessment, and for the distress and frustration that this exceptional situation has caused,” Mitchell said. 

“However, the University and the Law School set a high value on the integrity of assessments, which are crucial to preserving the good standing of our qualifications for graduates, the legal profession and society.”

In a statement to Honi, incoming Sydney University Law Society President Naz Sharifi said: “We acknowledge that this entire situation has been quite distressful for many students and we welcome any attempts that will ensure students are not disadvantaged.”

Students can apply for special considerations using the special considerations portal.