About the new Study Regulations

On 28 May, the new Study Regulations (SR) were approved by the Senate and they will enter into force on 30 August. The SR are the most important bylaws governing studies and UTSU also proposed several amendments to the document. Here is a short overview of the changes we should rejoice over as students, changes that make us wary and proposals we will continue fighting for in the future.

The goods:

The new SR are shorter and more concise, in the future an online version with references to terminology, other bylaws and guidelines to help navigate study organisation could be helpful.

The section on assessment now includes a clause according to which all assessment and appeal procedures must follow good practices and be just, unbiased and learning-oriented.

Grades must be submitted to the SIS within two weeks after the assessment, but no later than on the fifth working day before the re-sit of the examination, and before the end of the semester.

Students with additional needs are eligible for accommodations in studies.

Committees that process cases of academic fraud will be formed at institute and faculty level. Student members will be included. This change aims to standardise the procedure.

To appeal a final thesis grading decision, students will now have three, instead of two working days. For other study organisation related decisions, appeal deadlines have been extended by two working days – students now have five working days to submit their initial appeal.

The so-so’s:

The new SR include a clause that allows for teaching staff to only offer one examination time, if justified. The conditions under which this could be justified remain unclear to UTSU. Such an exceptional limitation must be clearly communicated upon regulation – if you are doubtful about the legitimacy of only being offered one examination time or if you are not notified timely, you can appeal the decision.

The university is granted a right to monitor assessment with electronic proctoring services. Once again, we hope that such software is only used in exceptional circumstances, since proctoring services have been shown to utilise racist face detection algorithms, give false positives upon filtering fraudulent exam-takers and give rise to additional anxiety. Additionally, we find the use of such software to violate privacy and data protection requirments.

In the Appeal Committee, students can appeal cases where they believe procedural rules have been violated, yet the Committee is entitled to refuse processing claims that request reviews of positive grading decisions. We find this change dangerous, considering that grading can be unjust regardless of whether the grade that is being appealed positive or negative. Such violations cannot be underestimated.

To fight for:

We made a proposal to allow for thesis defenses before completing all courses even after COVID-19, if authorised by the Programme Director. This would allow both teaching staff and students to distribute their workload more evenly in this busiest time of the semester. The proposal was not approved but we have been promised additional analyses.

We wanted to amend the clause about final theses reviews so that opponent would be obliged to submit their opinions three working days before the defenses – we find one working day to be insufficient to prepare for the defense. This proposal did not garner support.

We recommended anonymous grading systems to be implemented in order to ensure equal treatment and to avoid (implicit) bias in grading decisions. We have been promised that the possibility of application of such methods will be further analysed in the future.

If you have any questions or ideas how to make the Study Regulations even better, write to us at tyye@ut.ee!