Covid 19 coronavirus: University of Auckland’s plan to have students sit exams in person slammed

Covid 19 coronavirus: University of Auckland’s plan to have students sit exams in person slammed

University of Auckland students are raising ire at having to sit Semester 2 exams in person.

The university plans to have students in New Zealand sit exams in person, while those overseas will sit them online and open book.

Classes were due to begin back on campus on October 5, but that has also been pushed back until Auckland is at Covid-19 alert level 1.

It is the second time the university has pushed back restarting physical classes after originally planning to operate classes of up to 300 people for the second half of Semester 2, which began two weeks ago. That was delayed after it was questioned by director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

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More than two dozen students contacted NZME with concerns about sitting exams in person โ€“ many of which are echoed in an open letter by the Auckland University Students’ Association.

Multiple students emailed “on behalf of a collective” and said sitting exams in person would be unfair.

They said it would not be “equitable”, and the lingering possibility of moving back up alert levels and general wariness about Covid-19 would cause added stress.

Students felt concerns they were voicing were going ignored by the university.

Some students also felt there should be some relief given due to added anxiety and stress from the pandemic. Last semester the university gave a universal 5 per cent “grade bump” to all students. This semester only those with a failing grade of 47, 48, or 49 per cent will have their grade rounded to the minimum passing grade of 50.

Association acting president Emma Rogers said some students wanted to be back on campus โ€“ mainly in courses that had practical elements. But she has heard more from students concerned about returning.

She said students had spent majority of the year doing university online and had become “accustomed to this mode of assessment”. Rogers said online exams was “just a different way to prepare” for the ongoing threat Covid-19 posed.

Rogers was aware the university’s stance was concerns around academic integrity. “But given that we’ve got a bit of time before exams [begin on November 5] we’re hoping the university will take a pretty proactive approach and work against any breaches that may occur.”

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University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater was aware of student concerns, but said it was in-person exams were to “ensure the University’s academic integrity standards are maintained”.

She said it supervised exams were preferred for all students.

“This is simply not possible for students overseas.”

Freshwater said the university was confident there were measures to operate exams in person safely โ€“ “even at alert level 2”.

The University felt not having a universal grade bump was “a more equitable approach” and it acknowledged the “additional stresses” students were under due to Covid-19.

About 2000 of the university’s students were currently overseas, and approximately of them 1700 were international students.

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Published at Sun, 04 Oct 2020 21:23:50 +0000

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