We just can’t cope with es­say dead­lines, moan ‘snowflake’ stu­dents

The Mail on Sunday - - Comment - By Jonathan Pe­tre ED­U­CA­TION CORRESPONDENT

GROW­ING num­bers of ‘snowflake’ stu­dents are ap­peal­ing for spe­cial ex­emp­tions af­ter miss­ing es­say dead­lines or ex­ams – be­cause they over­slept or were ‘stressed out’ by the tests.

A Mail on Sun­day in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found that top uni­ver­si­ties, i nclud­ing Ox­ford and Cam­bridge, were in­un­dated with thou­sands of ap­peals last year by un­der­grad­u­ates fear­ing they could lose vi­tal marks for fail­ing to com­plete as­sess­ments.

Stu­dents are able to plead with an of­fi­cial panel of aca­demics to be al­lowed more time to fin­ish work or re­take an exam or stage of a course if they can show ‘ ex­ten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances’ such as ill­ness or se­ri­ous per­sonal prob­lems.

But fig­ures ob­tained from Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quests show that the num­bers of such ap­peals are ris­ing dra­mat­i­cally – and aca­demics say un­der­grad­u­ates are play­ing the sys­tem.

Among un­suc­cess­ful ex­cuses given were that a stu­dent missed an exam by a few min­utes be­cause she had ‘over­slept’. A sec­ond young­ster ar­gued that he was ‘dis­tracted’ be­cause he had to buy items for his un­fur­nished flat. And a third stu­dent claimed to ‘get stressed around ex­am­i­na­tion pe­ri­ods and had found it dif­fi­cult to cope’.

It comes amid mount­ing crit­i­cism of the ‘snowflake’ gen­er­a­tion who are less able to cope with the stresses of univer­sity life than their pre­de­ces­sors.

Pro­fes­sor Alan Smithers, of Buck­ing­ham Univer­sity’s Cen­tre for Em­ploy­ment and Ed­uca- tion Re­search, said that be­cause uni­ver­si­ties were more sen­si­tive to the men­tal health of stu­dents, they were grant­ing more re­quests, which was fu­elling a rise in sub­mis­sions from those try­ing to take ad­van­tage.

Aca­demics at the Univer­sity of East Anglia in Nor­wich, which recorded a stag­ger­ing 10,492 re­quests last year, ex­pressed alarm at the num­bers. One of­fi­cial said that be­cause stu­dents could self-cer­tify their ill­ness, with­out a doc­tor’s note, ‘it ap­pears the num­ber with ill­nesses has shot through the roof’.

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