By HEROLENE UITHALER
Off campus students at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University do not only have to worry about passing a test to the best of their ability, but rather how they are going to arrive safely at their destinations without being exposed to any dangers on their way.
As class venues at NMMU are mostly used for lectures during the day, students are left with limited choice but to stay after lecture hours in order to complete class tests. In this instance, psychology tests are written at night, around 5pm till 7pm, but students are not at all happy with the scheduled times. As the module is compulsory for students studying education, social work and psychology, students are left with limited choice but to write the test to prevent them from failing the module.
According to students interviewed, although this gives them enough time to study, as they normally do not have many lectures during the day, they still have to travel fromUitenhage or areas in Port Elizabeth and risk the chance of getting robbed or possibly assaulted.
Psychology lecturer, Lisa Currin says, “The reason why tests are written at night is for practical reasons. One example of this is to cater for part time students who will be unable to take time off work during the day to write a test.”
Although there have been many complaints from students living in Uitenhage, there has been an outcry from three students in particular. Gillian Mawona, first year social work student who lives in Uitenhagesays, “I enjoy my first year very much but I just wish they could make an exception for off campus students as transport is the only object that stands in our way.”
Mawonaclaims she cannot perform well in her exams as her only concerns are the safety of her and her child when she finishes with exams around seven and has to take a taxi home.
She stays in one of the most dangerous areas in Uitenhage, which leaves her to take a taxi from South Campus to town, take the last Uitenhage taxi home with the hopes of getting a taxi in Uitenhage to take her straight to her street. She says in most instances however, she has to take a cab which costs her double.
ElaneWalljee, second year BA Generalstudent, also has to travel from Summerstrand to Cleary Park daily as she cannot afford accommodation on campus or closer. She raises questions as to whether there cannot be transport provided for out of town students to ensure their convenience and stress relief.
Walljee said, “I hate leaving school in the dark as campus is not all that safe either because students are also turning into criminals these days.” She also claimed after her friends laptop got stolen from the residence, students cannot always be trusted.
Walljee would prefer writing the test during the day or on a weekend as she considers it as beneficial to all students as danger will be reduced.
According to Currin it is impossible to arrange a time during the day that would suit everyone. A third reason is that venues are booked for lectures during the day and it is very difficult to find a venue available during the day that is big enough to accommodate the number of students in a module.
The dangers of public transport and safety are not the only reasons students are unhappy with the choice of test times, they feel their marks are going under as they are not fully focused during the test.
Stefani Matthews, thirdyear psychology student, travels from Summerstrand to Missionvale after every late night test and fears not only for her life and safety, but also for her academic progression.
“Because I live so far and I depend on public transport, I tend to stress about a lift home while writing a test and that makes me forget the test answers and I fail to read the questions thoroughly as I am constantly rushing to make it for the last taxi,” she said.
All these students ask for is that the test schedule be changed to an earlier time, during the afternoon. They say if the request cannot be granted, they are willing to write on a weekend just to prevent further endangerment.
Currin suggested students who are unhappy speak to the psychology lecturers concerned regarding the possibility of changing times to an earlier slot.
“Another important point is that writing tests at night is not exclusive to NMMU. You will find that most, if not all, universities schedule tests for evenings, including Friday nights and weekends,”Currin said.
This is a situation that requires urgent assistance from those with higher authorities.