Flexible education not that flexible


If you don’t know, I am studying a Masters in Project Management. I have elected to study online as it is easier to fit in with having kids and my lifestyle at the moment. I did start the degree without kids, but chose online as working and finding time to get to class might be an issue, online delivery seemed to be the best way forward.

Last week I noticed that the draft timetable had been listed, it was noted if you needed a remote location for this exam to contact the coordinator. Upon finding out that there was to be an exam, I contacted said coordinator and was told not to worry that I would be able to have the exam at a remote location. Just to explain, a remote location is not at the campus. The campus is in the city, and I currently live over 2 hours away.

Exam room waiting for everyone to sit their uni exam. Wish us all luck!

Exam room waiting for everyone to sit their uni exam. Wish us all luck!


I emailed a request to have a remote location organised due to me being far away and commitments with my twin girls. After over 4 emails this was not taken into consideration and I have to come to campus to take this exam.  As you can imagine I am not happy with this result. The university sighted costs and issues with getting my results back in a timely manner.

One of the emails stated that I could have a remote location for the exam under special circumstances. I then cited the fact that I need to drop kids off at pre-school for 9.15am and pick them up for 2.45pm. I need to be at the university for 9.20 for a 2 hour exam. It takes me 2 hours to drive or at least by train to get to the city. The exam is slated to finish at 11.30, then I would have to drive back, so factor in another 2 hours travel time. I think I would miss school pick up in the afternoon as well. If the exam was local could drop kids at school, do exam and then pick kids up. No issues at all, other than the worry about passing this exam.

The coordinator thought she was being helpful to start the time of the exam at 11.30 to let me drop of the kids at school, but then who picks them up? We are in an area with no family or many friends close by. I have made more friends that have said that can help, but I am not leaving them with one child it will be two. Also I am not sure when I will be back.

I ended up asking my husband to take the day and work part of it from home, he was lucky that he could do it. Normally he is flat out with projects and it might not have been possible.  What would have happened if I had no one to ask? Why is it that the university can sight costs, I am paying nearly $4,000 for just one subject each semester, and I am not using any of the facilities on campus? The least they can do is to help me out a bit. I do understand that there is a cost associated with remote exams, but why can’t I double up with another university that is doing the same thing. Would this not reduce costs?

One of the reasons that the university claim that I need to physically be at the University for the Exam, is that they say that I am located in the Sydney Metropolitan area. If this is the case, I should be able to walk to George Street and go to the movies, maybe a spot of shopping at Centrepoint as I am so close and walking distance. What a laugh!

Living in Katoomba it is very interesting that sometimes you live in the country and then the rest of the time you are considered that you live in the city. Interesting, I fully believe that it is structured to benefit the business owner, not the customer. I am already paying inflated fees, and an extra one that they have decided to add for just this year and the remainder of my course.

I also feel that it discriminates against women with children. How do you manage to retrain, have an interest and earn the same or more money for the next job?  A degree or like qualification will help. Doing flexible online study I would think that they would be open to remote venues for the exam, now it has put a whole lot more stress on the day. Thank god I have a husband that can take the day, what if I had no one? Would they have stepped up then? Child care is too expensive, pre-school is costly. To then have to pay to get to the exam by putting kids in care would have really annoyed me no end!

Why can other universities have exams in Wentworth Falls and Katoomba, and mine Sydney University cannot do the same.  I am still annoyed, frustrated and felt stressed out trying to organise how I will be able to attend the exam.   As a mother and a person that would like to do well with her career, I find this unacceptable and this needs to change. University and other educational institutions need to step up and make exams and courses easier to access for mothers and parents. I think they need to consider the individual and then assess from there.

Have you been annoyed at your educational provider? Have they made things difficult for you due to being a mother and having other commitments? Why is it so hard for this to be taken seriously, I think that they did not put any weight into the fact that I am the only person that takes care of my twins during the week, and I don’t have help.   Has this happened to you? Send in your comments.

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2 Responses
  • ziggi
    May 10, 2012

    I understand your frustration and completely understand the juggle, but I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. Imagine how many “special circumstances” stories universities must get. I bet candidates for jury duty have many of the same stories (but they’re probably a little more flexible). At what point do they draw the line? They’ve obviously drawn the line very firmly and don’t have any other options built in. Maybe they don’t have the ability to have those options (who knows why not)?

    I do find it ludicrous that they consider Katoomba in Sydney. Sydney stops at the bottom of the mountains with the boundary of the Nepean River. Anything past that must be considered regional. Regardless of your other commitments, this should easily be enough to allow you to have a remote testing location.

    • Suzanne
      May 10, 2012

      Yes I do understand that they need to have a cut off and cannot say yes to everyone, but living 2 hours away from the campus is a bit much to be considered local. Thanks for the comment.

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