For students at start of exams

April 14, 2020

Sent on behalf of Dr. Jonathan Driver, Vice-President Academic and Provost pro tem, SFU

Dear students,

The start of the final exam period is often a stressful time, and the many changes in our lives caused by the response to COVID-19 make this a more difficult exam period than usual.

Students have expressed concerns about a number of issues, so I am using this message to inform you about your rights as students during exams.

Your instructor is in the best position to decide how to assess your performance in relation to the learning objectives of your class. Many instructors have had to adapt assessment methods for students because we have moved away from in-person assessment, such as final exams in a classroom or the gym. Continuing with end-of-term assessment will ensure that you receive credit for the work you have done.  

Some students are worried about the use of some technologies in the final exam period, particularly videoconferencing systems that require students to be present on camera for the duration of an exam. Such technologies can be useful teaching and assessment tools, but software, hardware and internet connections can be unreliable or unavailable. For some classes, such technology may be workable, and for others it may not be appropriate. But if such technologies are to be used, instructors must have alternate plans in place for situations when technology fails or for students who are unable to access appropriate equipment or who lack internet access.

If you believe that aspects of how your exams are conducted make it difficult for you to participate fully or to be treated fairly in relation to others in the class, you should first contact your instructor and explain your circumstances. I will be sending a message to instructors asking them to work with students to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to have their learning assessed fairly.

If you do not think your instructor has responded reasonably, you can raise this issue with the Chair of the Department or Director of the School in Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; Faculty of Applied Sciences; Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology; Faculty of Education; Faculty of Science. You should raise this issue with the Dean’s office in Beedie School of Business; Faculty of Health Sciences; and Faculty of Education, and you will be directed to the appropriate person. No student will be penalized if they ask for an accommodation.

No student will be penalized if they ask for an accommodation.

All students have the right to appeal their grades. See for policy.  

Students may also seek advice from the Office of the Ombudsperson if they need assistance in understanding university policy or in making their case to their instructor or to the relevant academic unit.

As always, please refer to our FAQ page for the latest information and advice on keeping your education going through the next few months:


Jon Driver
Vice-President, Academic and Provost pro tem

Simon Fraser University