July 11, 2023

More about Don’t Invoice Our Illness

UPDATE – March 2023

We launched an anonymous survey about deferred exams a few months ago. Respondents were a mix of full-time and part-time students and the survey was completed by 284 students.

Key findings:

  • 95.82% of respondents support U of T removing fees for deferred exams for health reasons.
  • 47.28% of respondents stated that they would “certainly” or “probably” attend an exam while ill in order to avoid paying a fee.
  • 65.93% of those who had previously been in a situation where they had either needed to request a deferred exam or tried to reschedule an exam reported that they had written an exam while sick.
  • 58.24% found the exam fee to be a financial stress or barrier, while 48.35% believed that the stress of deferring exams worsened or prolonged their physical illness.

We also received testimonials from students, including those below:

I was very upset that I had to miss a final exam. I was tested positive with COVID and was unable to pass the Ucheck to do my final exam in winter 2022. I submitted a petition for exam deferral on eservice along with proof of my illness. I was very disappointed to find out I had to pay a $70 deferral fee for missing an exam due to something that was completely out of my hands while missing it was for the safety of my fellow classmates and professors.

Current U of T student

During my second year of undergrad, I experienced severe mental health issues which made it feel impossible to write exams. I was given the option to defer but could not afford it and knew I would be mad at myself later if I did spend money on a deferral, further worsen my mental state. I ended up dropping several grade points in most of my courses that semester.

Current U of T student

During my Winter Semester, I missed my final due to illness. I get sick rather easily and am susceptible to colds and infections. At first, I received no reply on the procedure to take a makeup exam. It was a lack of support and in addition to that, I was expected to pay $70 because I got sick on the wrong day. I think it’s unreasonable that we are expected to pay any amount, much more $70, for a reason out of our control.”

Current U of T student

UPDATE – November 2022

Read the letter APUS sent to faculties below, or in PDF format here.

Don’t invoice our illness.

As the student union representing thousands of part-time undergraduate students, our membership includes students with disabilities, student parents, and student caregivers to the elderly – communities highly impacted by the pandemic.

We believe that we ALL have lessons to learn from COVID-19; and that we ALL share responsibilities to apply what we learned in preventing the spread of disease, to ALL our benefit. As our healthcare system’s capacity is stretched by the transmission of COVID-19, the flu, and RSV, the safety phrase of  “if you are sick, stay home” continues to be among the most effective ways to mutually care for each other. We encourage you to do what you can to make that a viable option for students at the University of Toronto. 

Currently, students who are ill can request a deferred examination. The safe choice comes with a cost – students are charged $70 for a single deferred exam, and $140 for two or more. The safe choice comes with a time cost – where students usually cannot take their deferred exams until the next exam period or the next session in which the course is offered. 

It’s fees like these that are a barrier to sick students  staying home. The current system pressures students who are sick, contagious with infectious diseases, or otherwise symptomatic or isolating to attend exams while sick  in order to avoid costs and delays to their studies; in turn making others (both students and workers) sick. This lack of choice endangers those at greater health risks. This has spiraling effects.

We believe students should not be forced to choose between paying a fee, and protecting their fellow students while recovering from illness.

We believe that you can agree. We encourage you to be supportive in your leadership to:

  1. Eliminate fees for deferred exams.


  1. Shorten the wait time to retake deferred exams.  
  2. Keep deferred exams processes barrier-free; including no hidden fees (i.e. medical notes). 
  3. Increase student involvement in pandemic planning. 

You are receiving this letter because you have the influence to make positive change at U of T.  Some of you may have already made changes to exam options to promote health and safety without undue financial or health risk to students. 

Please let us know what you have done or are prepared to do. 

We continue to hear from students on this issue and will continue these conversations.  

Please contact APUS to share strategies and solutions to ensure barriers to deferred exams do not pose dangers to the health of our community.


Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students (APUS)

Jaime Kearns, President – president@apus.ca