30 Sep 2020

Auckland Uni students want online exams after disruptive year

6:13 pm on 30 September 2020

Some students are urging the University of Auckland to hold end-of-year exams online rather than on campus.

Signage for the Epsom Campus of the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Photo: 2015 Lakeview Image Library

They said they had been learning remotely for so long this semester that a shift to on-campus assessment would be disruptive.

The university has been teaching students online since Auckland went into a level 3 lockdown and planned to resume regular lectures late next week if the city moved to alert level 1.

The vice-chancellor, Dawn Freshwater, recently told students the university would hold exams on-campus in November if Auckland was at alert levels 1 or 2.

"I am aware from the many messages I have received over the past week that some students have a preference for online examinations, as in semester one. However, we have to balance this against the need to ensure the university's academic integrity standards are maintained," she wrote.

Today, students contacted RNZ calling for a change to the plan.

One student, who asked not to be named, said the switch from online learning to on-campus learning and exams would be disruptive and harm students' performance.

"It's going to cause quite a bit of disruption to people's learning and to how well they can do in these exams," she said.

Another student, who also asked not to be named, said the exams should be offered online as open-book tests.

"We've had essentially seven or six weeks to get eight weeks' worth of work in," he said.

"Jumping straight back into in-person, we're not quite ready for it I guess, so online we'd have access to our workbooks, if they're open-book, and it'd also be better suited to the way we've been learning so far."

He said students who were studying online from overseas would do their exams online, so it was only fair to give students in New Zealand the same treatment.

Both students said most of the people they knew would prefer online exams.

They also said they wanted the university to give all students a five percent boost to their marks for semester two.

The university has already dismissed that idea, opting instead to award a pass mark to any score up to three percentage points shy of 50 percent.

"We believe this to be a more equitable approach than a universal 'grade bump', given that the disruption of Covid-19 has impacted people in different ways" Freshwater said.

She said the university would also waive its usual fee for applying for an aegrotat or compassionate consideration of tests and exams for students who applied due to disruption caused by the pandemic.

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