The Faculty of Arts & Science’s 2018 December exam schedule was released on October 31, leaving many students frustrated with the delay. According to U of T, the delay is in large part due to the size of the university and the lack of a central planning policy, which is unlike other Canadian universities.

In an interview with The Varsity, university spokesperson Elizabeth Church said that the primary focus of those in charge of structuring the exam schedule was to avoid as many conflicts as possible.

“In order to minimize conflicts in the exam timetable… it takes some extra time to look right down to the student level to look at the schedules and try to adjust them to reduce the number of students that have conflicts.”

She added that further difficulty came from needing to have course enrolment numbers finalized before the schedule could be released.

There is also little in terms of institutional policy that goes into structuring the exam schedule. Ryerson University and the University of British Columbia (UBC) were clear about their policies and sent The Varsity a detailed outline of the expectations of both students and faculty.

It is unclear who specifically is responsible for the exam schedules, as Church said that a number of different faculty and registrars from across many different departments are involved.

When asked how many staffers work on the exam schedule, she replied, “It’s hard to give a number because it involves different people across the university, so registrars as well as people who are organizing facilities and spaces as well.”

UBC planning system

Other schools such as UBC and McMaster University released their exam schedules much earlier, on October 10 and October 15 respectively.

In an email to The Varsity, UBC Associate Registrar for Enrolment Services Annie Yim specified that, “Final exam requests are collected via our Student Information System, where departments insert the final exam information received from the instructors.”

This information is then exported to an automated exam scheduler system, which prioritizes avoiding conflicts. Once the software has finalized the schedule, it is published, and then exam room locations are published two weeks later.

UBC’s deadline to finish their exam schedule this year was September 18, around a month and a half before U of T students got theirs.