Although many courses in the University of Amsterdam offer second chances in case a student may come short of the 5.5 passing margin, modules that are part of the International Relations study program do not. This means that once a student fails a module, they must take it next year to pass their studies. In the worst-case scenario, this could result in an extra study year. Additionally, for non-EU students, this means they will have to pay around €8-15k extra to cover their study delay. Students have questioned professors about this policy but only received trivial excuses from professors, with them blaming the pandemic or a lack of time. Just because there is an ongoing crisis, we students are thrown under the bus?
Having no resits can make students even more stressed, as they will be aware that they only have one chance to prove themselves. This creates a “do or die” situation that puts enormous pressure on students, especially international students. Though the “best-of-one” format is considered a good thing in sports since it enhances competitiveness. University is not a sport and every student learns at their own pace. Keep in mind that the added pressure can also contribute to anxiety, depression and despair, and worsen mental health problems.
Even in sports, the “best-of-one” format still divides fans. This can be attributed to the format’s higher tendency to produce flukes and increase pressure on players, leading them to play “scared” instead of being proactive. On the other hand, the “best-of-three/five/seven/” formats can be boring for viewers as the number of games can make it feel like the series will last for ages. These formats provide more opportunities for the participants to be proactive and risk-taking, as well as preventing skewed results. Elite athletes like “Penaldo” or “Pessi” miss penalties sometimes, the same can be said for students. Sometimes, students can feel under the weather or have unforeseen circumstances happen to them. Though they might fail the initial exam, students can bounce back through resits.
Another example: experiments. In research, tests are not usually a one-and-done process. In most contemporary experiments, multiple trials are taken for each participant. The goal here is the same as in sports: to prevent the skewing of results. Multiple trials are taken in research as there are conditions that can affect the participants and affect results such as interruptions or human error. This sort of consideration should also be kept in mind for examinations, especially considering that some of our exams are not even taken in testing areas where conditions are stable. One would expect a university, that is counted among the best in the world, to know about the fundamentals of research. Somehow the university forgot to apply these principles to examinations.
Unless the UvA reworks this abomination of a policy that they recently created, this “no resits” policy is simply unfair. Having resits greatly helps in improving students’ performance and mental health. As mentioned earlier, formats of matches in sports, as well as trials in experiments, provide examples of why resits should be essential in every course. Though puritans might say that someone failing their exams simply means that they are not good enough and that second chances are not needed, they can look at numerous alumni who have taken resits and progressed with flying colours to become brilliant people in their respective fields.