University students are angry at plans to return to traditional in-person exams this year because it will require them to ‘memorize large amounts of information’.
Several institutions plan to move away from open-book online exams implemented during the pandemic and bring back timed and handwritten papers to exam rooms.
But undergraduates are upset because they won’t be able to bring books, check notes or use Google.
Jesus College in Oxford. Oxford PPE Diploma undergraduates said: “Online exams require a different set of skills; they focus less on memory and more on the ability to effectively synthesize information into an argument’
In a letter to tutors, undergraduate students of Oxford’s renowned Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) degree said: ‘Online exams require a different set of skills; they focus less on memory and more on the ability to effectively synthesize information into an argument.
“To prepare, we sought to take detailed notes that can be easily used to answer a question, rather than memorizing large amounts of information.
“Notifying students now of the in-person format allows them minimal time to completely rewrite their grades before the finals.”
Oxford PPE graduates include former Prime Ministers David Cameron, Ted Heath and Harold Wilson, as well as current Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
University students are angry at plans to return to traditional in-person exams this year because it will require them to ‘memorize large amounts of information’ (file photo used)
Most online exams held since March 2020 have been unsupervised, with students having between 24 and 72 hours to turn in their answers.
Research shows that those who take these exams online were more likely to cheat by consulting third parties or hiring so-called “test factories” to perform the tests for them.
As Oxford begins to reintroduce in-person exams, students are also complaining of being at a disadvantage compared to those in courses where virtual tests are kept.
The University of Southampton is also starting to hold in-person exams, prompting complaints from the students’ union that the plans will leave undergraduates feeling ‘unsafe’.
Most online exams held since March 2020 have been unsupervised, with students having between 24 and 72 hours to turn in their answers (file photo used)
But critics have accused the students of trying to avoid rigorous assessment standards.
Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Center for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘In-person exams are by far the best way we have to assess what a student knows, understands and can do. Actually.
“Protests betray the game – online exams open the door to manipulation and outright cheating. Universities should revert to proper exams immediately.
Undergraduates are upset because they won’t be able to bring books, check notes or use Google (file photo used)
Chris McGovern, President of Campaign For Real Education, said: “Online exams are popular with many students as they are an easy way to avoid being challenged by reality.
“Universities should build resilience, not allow snowflake students to take the easy option.”
An Oxford spokesperson said: “The university continues to offer a variety of different types of assessment this year, from open-book online exams to in-person exams.”
“Departments have confirmed the format of each exam to their students, based on course-specific educational considerations.”
The University of Southampton said: “After lengthy discussions, the university has decided that while a significant number of exams will take place online, some in-person exams will also take place as planned.” This is in line with government advice.