Prove your humanity

With the pandemic behind us, the future of tools implemented to help students and ease the burden on healthcare workers remains unclear. However, all around campus there is clear support for the continuation of the self-certification option for assessment extensions.

When COVID first hit, the Guild argued that students had less access to medical centres and that Curtin should reduce the number of students who were unnecessarily accessing health services.

Self-certification was brought in to address these concerns, but as the threat COVID posed diminished, the university reduced the number of self-certifications to two per semester for full-time students and one for part-time students.

Credit: Curtin University.

Guild President Dylan Botica’s perspective is that even though the threat of COVID has eased, there are always other illnesses, and it is still beneficial to students.

“Requiring students to go to the doctor to get a medical certificate just puts up barriers, and it does cause problems for health services where they’re seeing students that are sick enough to impact their assessments but not sick enough to justify being seen by a GP,” he says.

According to Dylan, the self-certification must be due to illness or injury, but that also includes mental health concerns, or if there is something going on that is causing the student distress.

Henry, a third-year professional writing and publishing student, works two jobs and finds that because the workload and schedule varies from week-to-week it’s quite difficult to map out and plan how long he needs for each assignment.

Due to his ADHD Henry occasionally struggles with time management and estimating study workloads in addition to his two jobs. Photo: Andrew Williams.

“For me, self-certification has been really helpful. I find that even with my Curtin Access Plan, I still sometimes run into the same problems that everybody does with assignments just a week later,” he says.

Henry described his experience with teaching staff as mainly positive, as most of them are understanding and recognise that people are differently abled.

He says, “the self-certification puts a lot of trust in the student which gives you more freedom and makes the degrees more manageable.”

Henry understands the reason the option was introduced was to ease the burden on health care workers during COVID, but still thinks the benefits for students outweighs the argument for removing the option.

Bosco, an accounting student in his third year, would also like to see the option remain.

Photo: Andrew Williams.

Bosco used the self-certification option for an especially hard assignment during his online study last year, when he got sick but seeing a doctor was difficult.

“The deadline was coming up and I was actually panicking until I found out about the self-certification option.”

Bosco said this year has been much easier than last year now that he is studying internally, as going to class in person, asking questions and not having to catch up on lectures has helped him understand the context of what he’s learning.

However, he still thinks it would be beneficial for the option to remain for students, and that he would use it again but only if he was very sick or in a special situation.

“I’d love to see it stay as an option because it helped a lot of students, not only me but I reckon it probably helped everybody”, he says.