Cambridge University is posting photos of exam halls on its website after ‘snowflake’ students said they were stressed by taking tests in unfamiliar surroundings.
An official report by academics at the university, where the country’s brightest have sat tests in large halls for centuries, said some undergraduates were uncomfortable with the ‘examination room environment’.
It found a growing number claimed to be so anxious about taking three-hour, end-of-year written tests alongside hundreds of others that they were being allowed to sit papers on their own, in small college rooms.
Cambridge University is posting photos of exam halls on its website after ‘snowflake’ students said they were stressed by taking tests in unfamiliar surroundings
But critics said the exam process ‘should be tough’ and those who could not cope should not be at the university.
Cambridge’s concessions emerged from a two-year review of the traditional exams, which said there was a 50 per cent jump in 2015-16 in undergraduates gaining permission to make ‘alternative arrangements’ because of anxiety or mental health issues such as depression.
The Examination Review Final Report also warned that bans imposed by colleges on parties and late-night bars to help students revise in peace could actually be another cause of stress.
Many colleges restrict bar opening hours in the so-called ‘quiet periods’ during the Easter term, and some even ban games on the lawns because of potential noise concerns.
An official report by academics at the university, where the country’s brightest have sat tests in large halls for centuries, said some undergraduates were uncomfortable with the ‘examination room environment’
But the report, by a group led by the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, Professor Graham Virgo, said: ‘Changes to the college environment during the examination period can add to anxiety.’ One student told The Mail on Sunday that the obligatory quiet periods created a ‘suffocating cloud of stress’, and the ‘nagging feeling that college is forcing you to work can undermine your self-confidence’.
However, the report praised colleges for introducing stress-reducing initiatives such as acupuncture.
‘Examination room environment’ and a ‘lack of familiarity with the venue’ were also cited by undergraduates as among the ‘influencing factors’ for wanting alternative exam arrangements. ‘Some photos of examination venues were added to the university website for the Easter 2017 examinations,’ the report said.
But critics said the exam process ‘should be tough’ and those who could not cope should not be at the university
Minutes of meetings by the review group show some members wanted colleges to organise tours of exam halls. There were also suspicions that some students applying late for ‘exam adjustments’ were ‘working the system’. It recommended more coursework to cut down on the pressure of three-hour tests, and that degree classification should not be based only on final-year exams.
Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘Students need to toughen up. Exams are rightly tough and, with a few exceptions, snowflake students shouldn’t be at university if they can’t cope.’
A Cambridge spokesman said it provided ‘a comprehensive range of services to help students cope with exam stress’.
The news is the latest example of ‘snowflake culture’. Last week, we revealed colleges could face legal action if they let over-sensitive students ban speakers whose views they find upsetting.