Roar news writer Shaheena Uddin on KCL’s exam season’s clash with Ramadan and Eid. Why scheduling exams in early May is disadvantageous to Muslim students, and what support King’s offers during this time.
Ramadan is a special and blessed month, which Muslims all around the world, including students here at KCL take part in. It is believed to be the holy month in which the Quran was revealed. This month-long spiritual marathon and more wholesome â€œhungerâ€ game, involves fasting from food and drink (yesÂ â€œnot even waterâ€) from dawn to sunset. This also includes abstaining from committing any harmful sins such as drinking alcohol, swearing, backbiting etc.
It is a time for great enlightenment and repentance, and for many, Ramadan makes up theirÂ favourite time of the year. For more information on what Ramadan means to Muslims, read KCL staff member (Sustainability Projects Assistant) and former KCLSU VP Welfare & Community 2020/21, Tasnia Yasminâ€™s blog post for Diversity DigestÂ here.
The last ten nights of Ramadan are especially important to Muslims, and one special night within the last third of the month is known as Laylutul Qadr. Muslims stay up until dawn to perform night prayers in hope of reaping the rewards on this auspicious night. Eid comes at the end of the month as a special culmination of festivity, gratitude and as a marker of celebration for all the efforts made during Ramadan.
Although partaking in Ramadan is a beautiful experience for many and Eid is always celebrated as a joyous occasion, these religious holidays are often stifled and â€œwatered downâ€ (pun intended) by the strain of academic exams and courseworks, which most often coincide during these crucial times of religious observance.
Despite the many health benefits of fasting, the fatigue and dehydration that inevitably onsets staying awake long hours without food and water, can make it difficult to keep up with, alongside daunting coursework deadlines and exam dates. This can leave many Muslim students â€œfastingÂ and furiousâ€Â under all the burden of academic pressure.
The date for Eid this year is undetermined due to the lunar calendar, but is most likely to take place on 1st or 2nd of May. This year, there are a number of modules across different departments which have exams and/or coursework on the first few days of May, likely during or just after Eid. It is important to acknowledge that Eid is a religious festival that goes on for three days, but many choose to only take off one day of work or school.
Here is a list of just a few of the modules affected by exams specifically on the 3rd of May which spans a broad range of courses (not including coursework):
- Bsc Business/Economics (4QQMB102 – Principles of Economics, 4QQMN136 – Introduction to Microeconomics, 4QQMN146 – Introduction to Macroeconomics)
- BSC Mathematics (6CCM359A – Numerical and Computational Methods with Python, 4CCM131A – Introduction to Dynamical systems)
- BA International Relations (4SSW1006 – International Relations theory)Â
- BA History (5AAH2035 – Conflict, Co-existence and Cooperation: South Asia’s International Relations since 1900)
- BEng General Engineering (4SSPP105 – Mathematical Modelling)
- Bsc Global Health & Social Medicine (4SSHM00A – Introduction to Global Health)
- BA Law (6FFLK008 – Public International Law)
- BA Philosophy (6AANA026 – Philosophy of Science
- BA Theology & Religious Studies* (4AAT1301 – From Machiavelli to Bodin: Renaissance and Reformation Political thought)
*TheÂ Theology and Religious studies department have a policy to accommodate students whose exams clash with a religious holiday by allowing students to sit their exams on a different day.Â
Unfortunately this is not the first occasion in which students have had to contend with final exams, teaching and coursework deadlines during Ramadan and Eid. Last year, many exams and an important GKT teaching session for second-year medics coincided with Eid. Many students have complained that Kingâ€™s needs to be more understanding and accommodating to those observing religious holidays.
In reference to exams potentially clashing with Ramadan this year the Deanâ€™s Office on the Kingâ€™s College London website has issued the following advice:
Observing Ramadan during your assessments
How can I be supported while taking assessments during Ramadan and Eid?Â
Over the next couple of weeks, many students will be taking alternative assessments provided by their departments; some of which will have specific timing that should not clash with the time of breaking the fast in the UK. If youâ€™re outside the UK and in a different time zone and there is a clash with the time of breaking the fast, please contact your faculty/department as soon as itâ€™s possible for you to do so.
If you’re on a clinical placement and need specific support to ensure you can meet any clinical learning/assessment requirements during Ramadan, get in touch with your Faculty/Department who can assist you further.Â Â Â Â
If you have any concerns with your assessments clashing with Eid, please contact your Faculty/Department as soon as it’s possible for you to do so.Â Â
When contacting your Faculty/department please include
- Your name
- Student ID number
- The date/time, module codes/titles of the exam assessments
If you feel unwell during an assessment
If you become unwell during your exam or your ability to complete an assessment of any type might be, or has been, adversely affected by an unforeseen circumstance, you should apply for mitigating circumstances as soon as it’s possible for you to do so.Â
How can I connect with other students observing Ramadan?Â
Important to know: If you need further support, or have further queries, get in touch with our Muslim Chaplains; contact details can be found on our Chaplaincy webpages.
For the first time in two years, due to lockdowns and Covid restrictions during Ramadan, this year have seen a surge in open iftars and community cohesion events all across the country. The KCLSU even organised a group iftar for Muslim students on Wednesday 27th of April to thank and show their support to students during this exam season.
Aminah Agha Alonso, a final year English student, had this to say about the event:
â€œI was pleasantly surprised when I saw KCLSU announcing an Iftar. It made me feel included and represented. It means a lot when the governing student body cares and caters to Muslims on Campus.â€
Aminah also shared her experiences with fasting alongside her studies: â€œWorking on our final year coursework during Ramadan has been quite challenging. Abstaining from eating and drinking throughout the day has an impact on energy levels and concentration. It is very draining to be juggling both at the same time.â€
However, Aminah still remains hopeful and optimistic that:
â€œNonetheless Muslim students will indeed persevere.”
From my own personal experience, Iâ€™ve had to endure all my GCSEs, A-Levels and every single year of my university exams throughout Ramadan (this is not an uncommon experience for many Muslim students in our generation, due to the time in which exams take place every year).
Having had a lot of experience dealing with this, Iâ€™ve written extensively on tips for â€˜Muslim student survivalâ€™ during Ramadan. But in short, my biggest advice is to remember to take care of yourself (naps during the day are my best friend) and to renew your intentions before studying and make plenty of dua (prayer) seeking Allahâ€™s help.
Students who do have a schedule clash with Ramadan and/or Eid this year should make sure to reach out to their department about it, as King’s has a responsibility to look out for and accommodate its Muslim students. Above all, make sure to take care of yourself during exam session and I wish you all the best of luck!