There is an increasing demand of extra time of tests as mental health issues rise among university students.

The Finding

According to new data, there is growing number of mental health issues among university students, causing there to be an increasing demand for extra time on tests or second attempts for submitting coursework.

Past surveys had also found that almost 80 percent of university students had reported having mental health issues from 2015 to 2016, with 33 percent having had suicidal thoughts.

Data also showed that 1,180 students dropped out of their courses early due to mental health issues in 2014/2015- 210 percent more than the 2009/2010 academic year. According to the National Statistics Office, 112 full-time students committed suicide in 2012 alone.

Student groups at universities have been pointing towards rising mental health issues on campuses for quite some time.

In Cambridge University, around 218 students were given extra exam time in 2016- around three times the number of students who were granted this five years ago.

In “Imperial College London”, special exam arrangements were given to around 111 students due to mental health issues. This was 100 students more than the 2011/2012 academic year.

Comments On the Issue

This weekend, Frank Furedi, a sociology professor from Kent University, has warned that this risks rendering universities’ exam systems as “a joke,” urging universities to become more strict about how many students are granted such rights.

He said: “A few decades ago it was only granted in very rare circumstances but it has now become like a joke. It means there are different rules for different people and that some people who work hard and just get on with it are effectively penalised.”

“There are genuine cases but you have examples like ‘Mary broke up with her boyfriend and he shouted at her about it and now she’s traumatised and can’t concentrate on her exams,” Furedi said.

However, some other experts completely disagree. The “mental health” charity, Student Minds, said that the special adjustments are entirely legitimate, and that it is very unlikely that students are “making it up to get out of doing the work”.

Former health minister, Norman Lamb, said that there is “a crisis on campus with respect to students’ mental health. Counselling provision should be a priority so that all students can access effective support for problems like anxiety, but we know that these services are too often underfunded.”

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