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Is it reasonable for an OU tutor to refuse an extension without knowing why?

(27 Posts)
burningupinspeed Wed 24-Jun-09 13:34:08

Sorry to be vague but I want to protect my identity so basically, a friend wants an extension but the tutor wants to know why so she can decide if it's a good enough reason.

Can't a student decide what is a good enough reason? Or they would not ask in the first place...?

Rhubarb Wed 24-Jun-09 13:36:25

It's perfectly reasonable for the tutor to ask this. If they just granted extensions willy nilly then everyone would be doing it.

They have to fill out the paperwork and put down why they've granted you an extension, because that teacher will also be accountable for by his/her supervisor.

schneebly Wed 24-Jun-09 13:36:43

Not sure about OU but at our university you have to request the extension a certain amount of time before the deadline and provide a reason too.

ChopsTheDuck Wed 24-Jun-09 13:40:47

Ive had to give good reasons on the couple of extensions I've had witht he OU. They are generally very understanding if you do give an explanation and it would be confidential. She doesn't necessarily have to go into great detail neither if it is a private matter.

burningupinspeed Wed 24-Jun-09 13:41:07

I do think it's reasonable actually, and can see my post doesn't give much away. It's an awkward situation bigger than this but I don't want to identify my friend or the tutor. Hmm. Thanks, I think I asked the wrong question but can't get at what I want, IYSWIM.

ChopsTheDuck Wed 24-Jun-09 13:41:29

it is also a lot harder to get extenstions after the deadline has passed with the OU.

bigstripeytiger Wed 24-Jun-09 13:42:59

At my uni you would have to provide a reason, and it would have to be a good one, backed up by medical evidence if needed.

If you can get an extension without good reason then you are getting an advantage over the students who handed in their work on time.

burningupinspeed Wed 24-Jun-09 13:52:29

The deadline hasn't passed, I think my friend will just have to follow the protocol and rise above things.

burningupinspeed Wed 24-Jun-09 13:53:42

Yes stripeytiger, I can see that completely, but it doesn't feel like that when you get an extension as it means you fall behind on the next bit, it can be a vicious cycle (my experience, not my friends, different courses etc)

Rhubarb Wed 24-Jun-09 13:57:45

Whatever it is, your friend needs to come clean with the tutor.

My brother did a degree in Mental Health and during the second year he had a huge relapse which resulted in a couple of suicide bids. He was all for giving up on the degree, but he talked to his tutor and was very frank about his situation. They were very understanding and gave him extensions on most of his assignments. They also gave up their time to help him get through.

Just saying that you need an extension for a very private matter won't cut much mustard. This is a situation where secrecy really doesn't help.

Molesworth Wed 24-Jun-09 14:07:49

OU tutors vary on this issue. IME I have never been asked to give specific reasons when I've asked for an extension, although I'd be happy to do so if necessary. I get the impression that most tutors assume that if a student asks for an extension they have a good reason for doing so. We are adults after all.

The only time when it is impossible for an extension to be granted is with the final TMA (or ECA), when there is a non-negotiable cut-off date.

burningupinspeed Wed 24-Jun-09 14:20:39

Thanks Rhubarb, it is not that my friend is trying to be secretive, it's just odd the way she has been asked for detail, having previously (different year) not asked at all. I suppose it's not really about the extension. The tutor is quite personal and snidey and IMO unprofessional so even reasonable matters become questionable, IYSWIM. Comments like 'god you are rambling on a bit here' and 'barely made it to the end of this one'. But that's for my friend to deal with or ignore.

Sorry to read about your brother though, that sounds very difficult, I'm glad he got the right support from them.

burningupinspeed Wed 24-Jun-09 14:21:41

Thanks Molesworth, that has been my experience too.

I must get my own act together but that's another matter!

Rhubarb Wed 24-Jun-09 14:22:23

Hmm, ok I see what you're saying, but he is entitled to ask I'm afraid. If she doesn't want to tell him anything personal, can she not go to his supervisor? There's usually someone else if you feel you can't trust your tutor.

burningupinspeed Wed 24-Jun-09 14:44:36

Thank you, I think she will give her reasons, but the initial request and the way it was worded got her back up. Think she is stressed though, she talks of dropping out a lot which is silly so close to the end, I suppose your perspective can alter a bit when feeling like that.

Rhubarb Wed 24-Jun-09 14:48:35

Tell her that she can put 'extremely personal reasons' she doesn't need to go into detail. If he asks more, she just says that it's a very private matter. As she's never asked for an extension before, he should know that her request is genuine. If he refuses, she can appeal.

clemette Wed 24-Jun-09 14:50:34

When I was doing my PhD I also did an adult ed book club. We had to write an essay for the latter and it was due in at the same time as my viva - I asked for an extension for the latter and had to provide TWO separate academic letters to prove it. It is pretty standard.

(OT, but the comments on the essays also seem quite normal - some tutors have a chattier marking style than ohers.)

burningupinspeed Wed 24-Jun-09 15:19:02

Thank you Rhubard, I'll pass that on.

Clemette do you really think it's okay to tell a student you barely made it to the end of their essay? That's not chatty, it's rude.

clemette Wed 24-Jun-09 15:56:25

I wouldn't do it to an adult, but I have done it to an A level student (using slightly more diplomatic language possibly). Some essays are almost impossible to wade through if they are badly planned or full or irrelvancies.
My supervisor would cross out sections and write "bilge"!

burningupinspeed Wed 24-Jun-09 16:23:56

Ok, but I am not exaggerating the language, and when someone is paying a lot of money for the privilege of being slagged off I think it's wrong. My friend does not want to be labelled as awkward though so says nothing. It's those sort of comments that has her wanting to quit, which is sad I think. The OU is supposed to be for all, not just the thick-skinned. She puts a lot of work into her essays and to have them so dismissed is disheartening and I believe affects performance. She says it is as though the tutor is simply bored by reading them so feels there is little point in writing them, I am trying to encourage her to stick it out.

burningupinspeed Wed 24-Jun-09 16:24:29

What I mean is, I think that if it's not constructive, then it's just criticism and out of place.

clemette Wed 24-Jun-09 16:28:47

I understand exactly her reaction but she needs to make sure she includes her concerns on her evaluations. I suppose I am just used to it, it is what much of academia is like. I know it is hard and don't really want to justify the tutor if they are not giving any tips for improvement, but it is not "slagging" the student off, it is saying that the work is flawed.

Molesworth Wed 24-Jun-09 23:29:53

lol @ the "bilge" comment!

Molesworth Wed 24-Jun-09 23:36:17

I think that in a brick university, where you have reasonably regular face-to-face contact with your tutor(s) it is possible to build up more of a trusting relationship where 'robust' criticisms are easier to take. OU students may never meet their tutor, and even if they attend all tutorials (when available) this would only amount to meeting roughly once a month over the nine months of the course (at the most). Therefore there's a more tenuous relationship that is conducted mostly through assignment feedback (no body language or tone of voice to help us along). I do think OU tutors should take this into account, but - being human and often lacking in IT and/or social skills - they sometimes don't wink

MollieO Wed 24-Jun-09 23:40:06

I've done it a couple of times with the OU. One time I gave a reason and one time I didn't. When I didn't I was asked to provide a reason by my course tutor.

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