BY JULIETTE CAPOMOLLA
Two Melbourne universities have announced they will not include students' failed units on their academic transcripts for semester one 2020, as engaging with studies becomes increasingly challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic.
La Trobe and Swinburne Universities each made the decision, in a bid to prevent students deferring to dodge a semester of online and remote learning.
Swinburne University Bachelor of Business/Media Communications student Lavinia Falvo said she had considered deferring this semester, until her university changed its policy.
“When they came out stating that if we fail it won’t go on our academic transcript, I chose to continue,” Ms Falvo said.
“My only concern would be that, I may feel as if it's like a free pass, and most students may just feel like they can do whatever they want.”
However, the policy has made her feel a lot more comfortable to continue with her studies.
“It’s a bit challenging, but with this new policy I feel a little more at ease compared to at the start of the year,” she said.
Swinburne University’s senior media and communications adviser Lea Kivivali said the university's main focus was to ensure students’ confidence.
“We understand that the current situation is creating challenges for some of our students, and for this reason, students who fail a unit this semester will not have fail grades recorded on their academic transcript,” Ms Kivivali said.
“There will be no change to how we publish other pass grades.
“These measures ensure that Swinburne's academic standards are maintained, whilst helping students who have their studies disrupted by the COVID-19 situation.”
Swinburne University department of education deputy chair Therese Kane believes they have made a sensible decision.
“These changes will help students feel confident that the university is fully supportive of their studies, under these challenging circumstances,” Ms Kane said.
“There are many unintended but compounded consequences and given the unpredictability of the virus, this is one less pressure that students need when there are many other pressing issues going on,” she said
While La Trobe University has mimicked Swinburne’s procedural change, Monash University told MOJO News there has been no decision to change its grading methodology.
Monash University senior lecturer in curriculum and pedagogy Dr Nathan Brubaker said a ‘one-size fits all’ approach might not be the most appropriate response in this situation.
“For students straddling the threshold between passing and failing, this extends an enormous degree of comfort and safety, knowing that only desirable results will stick,” Dr Brubaker said.
“It could have a net impact of reducing the overall quality of work across the board by virtue of eliminating a particular outcome that otherwise may be an appropriate reflection of the academic standard achieved,” he said.
“Aiming to take into account students' actual circumstances may be more appropriate.”