BY SARAH ARTURI and MITCH TURNER
Three Australian medical schools have altered a decision to completely exclude 2020 results from Grade Point Average (GPA) calculations, after thousands felt the exclusion would hamper their chances of becoming medical students.
Macquarie University announced it will include 2020 grades in GPA calculations if they are graded units, while at University of Melbourne and University of Wollongong summer units completed before the COVID-19 pandemic will be included.
These changes were triggered by the #RecogniseMyEfforts petition, created soon after it was announced 2020 results will not be included in GPA calculations for those applying to postgraduate medical, optometry, dentistry and physiotherapy schools in 2021.
The petition calls for other medical schools (not including Monash University) to adopt the opt in/opt out system employed by Griffith University, which allows students to choose whether they have their 2020 grades included, meaning the petition’s fight is far from over.
This system would ensure students whose academic performance had been adversely affected by COVID-19 could opt out, while students not adversely affected could opt in.
The petition has more than 9500 signatures as of June 10 and was spearheaded by Monash University Biomedical Science student Megan Cristofaro.
Ms Cristofaro is undertaking her honours year and said she feels “incredibly disrespected” that the grades she has been working tirelessly to achieve throughout the year will be completely disregarded.
“We as students didn’t choose to study in a pandemic, yet we are being discriminated against for something that is not in our control,” Ms Cristofaro said.
“All of the honours students have been working so hard, thinking that single grade we have been working to achieve this entire year would be a pathway to medicine. And to find out it won’t be recognised was a slap in the face,” she said.
A University of Melbourne spokesperson said in normal circumstances students were ranked according to their level of academic ability, however unprecedented events of the pandemic have caused student results to be a “non-reliable indicator of true academic ability”.
“In order to be fair to all applicants, the university will use the most reliable and equitable data from before the pandemic struck,” the spokesperson said.
According to the petition, excluding 2020 results would cause up to a 40 per cent portion of a GPA to disappear due to students’ final year of study being the most heavily weighted.
Australian South Asian Healthcare Society vice president Sudipta Datta helped create the petition only days before he sat his Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT).
“I think it was quite sneaky. The changes were thrown at us five days before GAMSAT and two weeks before medical school application deadlines, so students were already under a lot of pressure,” Mr Datta said.
“A lot of people have been affected by COVID-19, but this decision will also affect people who have been doing well.”
Mr Datta, along with other passionate students applying for medicine, optometry, dentistry and physiotherapy schools, feel they are “being denied a fair grading system”, putting them at a disadvantage compared to others who applied in previous years.