From the fall 2021 semester onwards, students pursuing a degree in the Faculty of Arts & Science (FAS) will be given until the last day of classes to use the credit/no credit (CR/NCR) designation for courses.
The policy is a modified version of one of several that the Arts and Science Students’ Union (ASSU) proposed to the faculty; however, it is the only one that passed the governance decision-making process. The policy will officially be in place in the fall 2021 semester.
The ASSU has been working with the university on their CR/NCR policies since March 2020, when the FAS extended the CR/NCR deadline and allowed unlimited use of CR/NCR for courses that were program requirements due to COVID-19.
An ASSU newsletter earlier this year stated that two policies which they had proposed with regards to the CR/NCR system were unlikely to be passed. The proposals included a permanent extension of the CR/NCR deadline until after the term marks were released and the ability to apply CR/NCR to program requirements.
The union wrote that the faculty had concerns that the extension would cause delays in program admission and determining upper-year course eligibility. The faculty added that allowing students to use CR/NCR for program requirements may leave them with a less stable foundation of material necessary for their program, and mislead them into believing that CR/NCR grades cannot be seen by professional schools, who can in fact see them upon request.
However, the proposal to extend the CR/NCR deadline to the final day of classes passed. The faculty’s concerns over the previous proposals are no longer issues under the policy that passed.
“We are lucky to have a very responsive Dean’s Office that was genuinely open to hearing our concerns and finding a solution,” the ASSU wrote in an email to The Varsity. “The Faculty recognized that our students felt that a later deadline would alleviate a large amount of stress surrounding their grades.”
Reactions from the student body
The ASSU believes that the extended deadline is an effective way to strengthen the CR/NCR’s primary purpose of encouraging students to venture outside of their comfort zone. The union stated that the previous deadline came too early in the semester and did not allow “for students to have a real grasp of their performance.”
Moreover, the union hopes that the new policy will improve student well-being and mental health, especially when dealing with the stress of a low grade that could potentially affect their GPA.
In an interview with The Varsity, Christina Liu, fourth-year student double majoring in nutrition and pharmacology, confirmed that she had supported the policy and that she believes it will help students.
“How can you really know [whether to CR/NCR a course] when you only have 10 per cent of your grade?” Liu questioned. “And so I think when you do have that extension, it helps students… make the best academic choices for themselves.”
Liu added that this is only the first step toward providing proper support to students and improving their experience at U of T, especially when it comes to mental health. She hopes that the momentum will continue to push through policies that help students.
“I think this is something great that the faculty has done, and I really hope that they will continue to take the positive feedback that [they have received from this] and apply that to passing future policies that benefit students,” said Liu.