Carl Housten - Authorcarl.firstname.lastname@example.org
KTH recently published their response to the new restrictions. It leaves much to be desired.
When the most recent restrictions were announced on the 10th of January, I watched the broadcast together with the THS Management Team. The Prime Minister announced that they recommended extra exam opportunities to be given to sick students in higher education, and we were all overjoyed. When KTH published their response, this joy was killed completely.
KTH announced that they have no intention of introducing new exam opportunities as of now. Instead, they referred students to the regularly scheduled re-exams. Which doesn’t really solve anything. For example, re-exams are not within the period in which SSSB (Stiftelsen Stockholms studentbostäder, eng; Foundation for Stockholms Student Housing) checks exam results.
THS President Teo Elmfeldt wrote in the THS response,
“We believe the decision is unclear and does not give reassurance to the many students that already have been forced to miss their exams, and that the news is too late to hinder desperate students from risking others wellbeing by showing up anyway. The re-exam period exists to give students another chance and aid them in keeping up with their studies, not as an all-encompassing pandemic solution.”
Why is KTH’s response so late, you may wonder. KTH management as well as faculties handling this have been on vacation since before christmas, their last meeting with THS being on the 20th of December, followed by new restrictions before christmas. Thus they haven’t been able to respond to the situation. This also means that THS hasn’t had much opportunity to impact KTH in this matter as of yet, their meetings started again the 10th of January. Heads of Educational Affairs Amanda Andrén and Tilda Byrstedt have been hard at work trying to influence KTH’s response in the interest of students.
Meanwhile we have seen more or less constructive discussions among the students about extra exams and KTH response during the exam period, mostly in Facebook-groups such as Legends of Tâmarrow and Kungliga Tekniska MEMES.
This spurred a petition to be launched, asking for “extra resources that would enable e.g. extra exam opportunities and the opportunity to take distance exams if necessary”. As of writing this article it is approaching 800 signatures, which is significant considering KTH has roughly 13 000 full-time students.
Osqledaren decided to start collecting our own data on the matter using a survey. A majority of the responses were students frustrated by the exam situation, many with different takes on the situation. Some wanted only digital examination, some only physical examination. Others were simply asking for more exam opportunities. Many answers were just venting their sadness or frustration with the situation. Suffice to say many students are unhappy with their situation. Below are a few of the responses:
“Being sick with Covid now after new year's leaves me feeling many things. Among them are loneliness, fear for my own studies in preparation for the exams, fear that I won't be well for the exams and thereby can't take them, and most of all fear for all those in my social surroundings whom I met over new year's: hoping desperately that they are all alright and that people in their social circles too are just fine. With this comes a feeling of immense guilt, even if I could do little more in preventative measures.”
“Not at all scared to go to my exams. I know some people cheated on exams via Zoom. Let's not go back to that if we can avoid it.”
“Såg inte alla diskussioner som blossat upp på Facebook och andra ställen förrän nu när tentaperioden är slut. Jag blir frustrerad över debattklimatet. Vågar inte säga öppet att jag tycker KTH gör helt rätt när de följer FHM:s rekommendationer istället för att hitta på egna regler. De 1,5 åren med distansundervisning vi haft var inte kul och tentor utan fuskmöjlighet går inte heller att göra på distans.”
“Vill inte gå tillbaka till salsföreläsningar för det är lättare att haffa över zoom”
What can you do if you failed some exams due to a covid infection? We spoke to representatives from SSSB and CSN (The Swedish Board of Student Finance) and asked them about exemptions being given for covid-related reasons. The interviews were in Swedish and have been translated.
First we spoke to Anita Andersson, representative for the housing delegation in SSCO (Stockholm Federation of Student Unions) as well as their vice president, Emilia Kaufeldt. SSCO is the governing body of SSSB.
How do you get an exemption for missing exams for covid-related reasons?
-There is no general rule, every case is treated separately. Basically you need a positive test result and prove that it coincided with the exam date, answers Andersson.
- We go through tons of applications with varying personal reasons and need to judge everything case-by-case, Kaufeldt comments.
How many students apply for exemptions, and how many are approved?
- We have been generous with covid-related applications. In normal cases you need to be able to back everything up with papers from the healthcare system. During covid quite a few applications have been due to exams being postponed, in these cases a confirmation from the school is enough.
- We can see that students taking fewer courses or studying 50% have been hit the hardest, adds Kaufeldt.
We also spoke to Sophia Beyer Rankila, press secretary at CSN. The description she gave of the process to gain exemption was similar to the response from SSCO. She wanted to encourage writing personal letters to describe your case and attach a positive test result or sick application to försäkringskassan (eng; Swedish Social Insurance Agency) that covers every exam opportunity that has been given.
CSN does not have statistics of how many people apply for exemptions for covid-related reasons either, but they claim that there aren’t more applications than previous years and that there are about as many people passing their courses.
Another tip she leaves us with is to also apply for their grant for spring when you apply for your autumn grant to raise your chances of passing their requirements and keep a steady flow of income, but to never apply for autumn when you apply for your grant in spring.