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Lausanne – University does not allow math genius to postpone exam after mother’s death


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Anyone who shows corona symptoms can have exams postponed at the renowned university. However, after a personal stroke of fate, this was denied to a Bachelor student. Spicy: As a gifted person, he has been studying at the university since he was twelve years old.

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EPFL Lausanne did not allow a student to postpone exams even though his mother had passed away just days earlier.

20min / community

For almost two years now, Swiss universities have had special rules due to the corona pandemic.  (Symbol image)

For almost two years now, Swiss universities have had special rules due to the corona pandemic. (Symbol image)

Tamedia AG

According to the newspaper “Le Matin Dimanche”, EPFL has allowed students with corona symptoms to postpone the examination date in several cases.  (Symbol image)

According to the newspaper “Le Matin Dimanche”, EPFL has allowed students with corona symptoms to postpone the examination date in several cases. (Symbol image)

20min / Taddeo Cerletti

  • The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL for short), like most universities, now knows various special regulations for face-to-face teaching due to Corona.

  • In this way, tests can be postponed in the event of symptoms.

  • Apparently a math student did not fall under this rule. Despite the death of his mother, the gifted man had to appear on site.

Like all other Swiss universities, the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) had to reschedule in the past two years due to the corona pandemic. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, it has allowed students who show symptoms to postpone exam dates even without a positive test result. However, the newspaper «Le Matin Dimanche» has published a case that shows that those responsible are not quite as flexible in other cases. For example, they did not allow a Bachelor student to postpone his end-of-semester exams, even though his mother had died just a few days earlier.

Florian Gerster is 20 years old and comes from the canton of Jura. He is not just any student, but a gifted man. Florian has been taking courses at the renowned technical university since he was twelve. In summer 2021 he is about to complete the first semester of a mathematics bachelor’s degree. On June 18, 2021, his mother tragically dies of cardiac arrest. Three days later, the exams at the end of the first semester of the Bachelor’s degree are announced. The young man then contacts the responsible department to postpone the exam. He explains that he cannot that day because his mother’s funeral will take place then. But the professor in charge remains tough. It is “practically impossible” to postpone written exams – even in serious cases – he explains to Florian.

Despite a special placement, the school management remains tough

The school then officially rejects his application. This despite the fact that several teachers had offered Florian and the school to postpone the oral exams for one to two weeks. But the school remains tough: Written exams can only be taken in the summer semester. The news de facto means that Florian has to repeat the first year of study. This does not allow itself to sit and appeals. A new plan provides that he can still take part in the courses in the second semester. The student affairs department informs him that especially good students have the option of skipping exams. Although Florian did not get top marks everywhere in the previous exams, the committee gives its approval to the proposal. But the school management intervened again and forbade the special solution.

This tough stance is in stark contrast to the situation a year ago. As «Le Matin Dimanche» writes, several undergraduate and graduate students who were experiencing symptoms were allowed to postpone their exams until spring. It should even have been possible to convert written exams into oral exams. According to Florian Gerster, his view of EPFL changed completely after this experience: “I always enjoyed coming to EPFL, looked up at this institution, but in the last six months my perspective has changed completely.” The newspaper quotes the university’s communications department as follows: “Unfortunately, situations like that of Mr. Gerster can arise.” However, a relaxation of the rule has been envisaged.

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