According to Western University officials, around 15 per cent of all Western undergraduate students—a total of around 1,500 students—are expected to request exam deferrals this academic year.
A student can request an exam deferral if they missed the original exam because of sickness or other extenuating circumstances. Western students who deferred exams will write their exams in January 2024 instead of the usual December exam period.
According to CBC News, an unprecedented number of students deferring exams creates problems regarding “where and when to schedule the make-up tests.” However, these deferrals are also a good thing.
According to Marisa Modeski, Western University’s registrar, allowing students to defer their exams is “a sign that the school takes student achievement and success seriously.” Modeski adds that it is the responsibility of universities like Western to ensure that their students are successful. Providing students with the option to defer their exams is one way of ensuring their success.
“Universities as a whole have become incredibly proactive and responsive to understanding the diverse needs of students today,” Modeski explains. She also notes that the increasing number of requests for exam deferrals stems from the increased enrollment rates at the university.
Growing enrollment numbers have been a trend across many Canadian universities. For example, in 2012, Conestoga College in Ontario had only 10,000 students. Ten years later, Conestoga’s student population has more than doubled, largely due to international student enrollments.
Canadian colleges and universities receive international students from over 150 different countries. The largest number of international students at Canadian universities comes from India, with around 40 per cent of study permits being sent there.
The stereotype that all international students come from well-off families is not true. To fund their studies, many students take out many loans and struggle to pay for rent and food.
For example, 23-year-old Kartik Purani, a student at Conestoga College, told The Globe and Mail that his main priority is finding work. “I’m under pressure,” he explains. “I have to earn the fees.” Purani admits that he doesn’t engage in “college life” much, due to having to look for work to pay for his courses next semester. But the job hunt is tough. Purani, who is currently living in Kitchener, has attended restaurant job fairs, and has asked for openings at various fast-food restaurants, but to no avail. There are hundreds of other international students like himself applying for the same jobs.
Purani’s roommates admit that they have entered the apartment to find Purani crying sometimes. The anxiety of trying to find a job, trying to afford paying bills, and balancing coursework weighs down on him. But Purani is aware of his goals and wants to stay in Canada. He chose Canada for its alluring immigration policies.
It is students like Purani who might benefit from exam deferrals. Balancing work, school, and other commitments can take a toll on a student’s mental health. Exam deferrals reassure students that universities recognize these challenges and are taking steps to account for increasing enrollment trends.
“In recognizing the diverse needs of our students, that they begin from very different starting lines, we have to make sure that we’re positioning students for success,” Modeski explains. “Part of that is being accommodating to students’ needs.” Allowing for a flexible exam period may help alleviate the stress levels international students face living in a foreign country.
Staff Writer (Volume 50) — Maryam is a third-year student completing a double major in English and Professional Writing & Communication. She started her journey with The Medium in 2022, where she’s written articles for News, Opinion, Features, and Sports. In her spare time, Maryam enjoys painting, cooking, and finding creative ways to educate people about world issues that matter to her.