Jumping Hurdles

22 September 2017

With exams looming, students are concerned about whether changes to the Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) will impact their marks.

A comprehensive review into the BCom at Melbourne commenced in 2015. The review, which was lead by the Commerce Course Standing Committee, was concluded at the end of 2016.

One of the key changes enacted by the a new policy at the beginning of the year was the introduction of a compulsory exam hurdle for all BCom subjects. The introduction of this hurdle means that if students fail the exam, they fail the subject.

Results gathered from Semester 1 2017 classes showed a large spike in fail rates. In previous years the average rate of class failure sat at around seven to eight per cent. After the introduction of this new policy some subjects saw fail rates rise up to 20 per cent, with economic and finance subjects being the most heavily affected and other disciplines not being affected at all.

Criticism that the policy is too harsh has arisen amongst some students in the Commerce faculty, especially towards student who already don’t cope well under the high stress environment of an exam.

Third year Commerce student, Samantha Varghese, believes that if students were clearly struggling with the content then there might have been a more direct way to help them instead of potentially adding more pressure and stress.

“I feel as though making adjustments to the course content or the way it is taught would help a lot in boosting students’ confidence in knowing the material throughout the semester,”
she said.

Education (Academic) Officer for the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU), Caley McPherson, believes the focus should be on why so many students are failing in the first place.

“Such increases in fail rates in some subjects are a source of serious concern, and the faculty needs to address them in more ways than just introducing a hurdle requirement. This is a clear signal that something in the teaching and learning experience is lacking.”

Paul Jensen, the Coordinator of BCom at the University believes the introduction of the exam hurdle was a success, upholding the University’s high expectations of academic standards.

“It’s most likely we will see a learning effect and people will work and study harder, whilst maintaining learning outcomes.”

In response to these criticisms Jensen replied, “We go to great lengths to ensure we safeguard the interests of students who can’t sit exams.”

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