sk-students_uofs

Students are being asked to use self-declaration of absence form instead of doctors' notes from the campus health centre. ((CBC))

Students at the University of Saskatchewan who've missed tests and assignments can no longer get a medical excuse note from the campus health centre.

The new policy, announced earlier this month, is getting a variety of reactions from students.

Some Saskatoon students whom CBC News contacted say they can understand why the Student Health Centre has stopped giving out the notes.

According to Lynn Kuffner, manager of student health and counseling, health centre physicians typically issue about 2,000 excuse notes per year, with most given out around exam time.

The health centre argues that writing up excuse notes wastes time that could have been better spent helping students with health problems.

"We are a very, very, busy clinic," said Kuffner, who adds that they see up to 200 people a day, but only have the equivalent of three doctors.

The new policy also encourages students to be responsible citizens, she said.

That's an idea that sits well with Samantha Koslowski, a second-year student.

"Someone could be completely not feeling sick, get an excuse note and feel miraculously better the next day," she said.

Still, she adds, she doesn't like the idea that some people may have to pay $20 off-campus to get a doctor's note from now on.

Marissa Grant, a fourth-year psychology student, says she thinks the decision to stop issuing doctors' notes is fair to a point, but in some ways it's not.

"I think it is not fair for those students who are living on campus and their primary source for a doctor is the student health clinic," she said.

It's also not fair, she adds, for some international students who don't speak English well and have a hard time navigating around the city to find a health clinic.

So what are students supposed to do if they are legitimately ill and miss a test?

The university says students should use what's called a "self-declaration of absence" — essentially a self-written excuse note.

A student who signs the form agrees that falsification is considered misconduct that will be dealt with under the university's academic conduct rules.

However, it's not clear if all professors will accept the self-declaration forms.

And that concerns Patrick Parkinson, a first-year pharmacy student at the U of S.

"I don't see why they would cancel or cease a service that is required by the university when you are sick and miss classes, exams, or labs," he said. "This doesn't make sense logically."