Swansea University

Religious Fasting During Examination Periods

Religious Fasting During Examination Periods

Information for students who are undertaking a Religious Fast at Swansea University during examination periods

The University community includes people from many different religious groups.

In some years, either the main examination period or the re-sit examination period overlaps (at least partially) with Ramadan or one of the other periods of religious fasting.   Regrettably it is not possible for the University to change the dates of the examination periods as these are fixed a long time in advance and any changes would have very significant effects on other events in the annual academic calendar.

It may be that students who are fasting for religious reasons would prefer not to sit examinations in the afternoons during the period of the fast, because students would not be eating at lunchtime.  Mornings may not be affected as fasting students would have the opportunity to breakfast before dawn, so would be little different to other days.

Individuals will inevitably differ in the extent to which they do, or do not, experience such changes, depending on their individual metabolisms.   The cognitive difficulties will naturally tend to be greater later on in the day. 

As a result from fasting, changes in blood sugar may produce hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) as an inadequate supply of glucose to the brain can affect brain function including concentration, memory, attention and other cognitive processes plus potential indirect effects on overall mood, anxiety and fatigue levels which can affect studying, revision and the examinations themselves.  Those people who have a diagnosed medical condition, such as diabetes, and in certain other circumstances, are usually excused from the religious requirement to fast.

Students who feel unable to sit examinations on certain dates or times due to their religious obligations should contact MyUniHub before 31 October for the January examinations, and 1 February for the May/June examinations. Every effort will be made to avoid scheduling examinations on these dates or times but this cannot be guaranteed.

The University would not wish to dictate to religious students how they should address this situation. However, in order to assist our students, advice has been sought and the following options have been identified:

  • Some students may decide not to take any particular steps and to continue with their fast as usual.
  • Some students, in consultation with their religious advisor, may consider that their examinations are sufficient justification to permit them not to Fast, either just on examination days or perhaps for the whole examination period.  The period of fasting can often be undertaken at a later time or some other arrangement could be considered.  

The National Health Service provides a guide on healthy living and Ramadan which may be found here.

Mr. Yusuf Kaplan, Interfaith Adviser from the University of Westminster was kind enough to offer the following practical guidance to Muslim students with exams in Ramadan:

  • Prepare the night before by mentally rehearsing the day ahead and note areas which may present difficulties.
  • Work out how to overcome those difficulties but try to imagine it as an ordinary day.
  • Ensure you are well rested - this may mean not attending 'tarawih' (night prayers in congregation).
  • Ensure you have 'suhur' (a pre-dawn meal) that has slow-release energy food.
  • If the exam is in the afternoon, take a short rest of 45 minutes around midday.
  • If you feel lethargic or irritated, refresh your 'wudu' (ritual ablution).

If you feel unable to sit an examination or that your performance has been significantly affected, you may request to defer your examination in accordance with the University’s Policy on Extenuating Circumstances Affecting Assessment.

Please note that non-final year students granted deferrals will be required to sit the examinations at the next scheduled examination point for the modules concerned. In the case of examinations during August, the next schedule assessment point will be when the module is next assessed during the next academic session.

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