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Universities finalise arrangements for end of year exams amid coronavirus closures

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Higher education colleges have been closed since March 12, with lectures going online, and work has been underway since to modify exam arrangements. (stock photo)

Higher education colleges have been closed since March 12, with lectures going online, and work has been underway since to modify exam arrangements. (stock photo)

Getty Images/Cultura Exclusive

Higher education colleges have been closed since March 12, with lectures going online, and work has been underway since to modify exam arrangements. (stock photo)

Universities say they will take into account the challenges and stresses facing students as a result of the Covid-19 emergency in designing and assessing end-of-year exams.

Universities and institutes of technology are finalising arrangements for end-of-year exams to go online or for some other assessment format that do not involve a traditional face-to-face exam, such as essays.

Higher education colleges have been closed since March 12, with lectures going online, and work has been underway since to modify exam arrangements to meet the requirements of the social distancing restrictions.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) said today that universities planned to complete arrangements for end of semester assessments within the next week.

The IUA said that the primary objective of the universities was that students be able to successfully complete this semester and either graduate or progress to the next year of their studies.

It said that universities recognised that this was a stressful time for students, and many faced challenges, including studying in difficult conditions, caring for others and limited internet access for some.

“The challenging and stressful circumstances that students are facing are being taken into account in the design and marking of these revised assessments,” the IUA said.

The IUA stated that the alternative assessment procedures were designed “to enable as much flexibility as possible for students to demonstrate that they have achieved the required learning outcomes, without compromising the integrity of the assessment process, and to maintain confidence and transparency in the quality of the degree and programme.”

It said universities were applying a number of key principles and approaches including:

  • Under-pinning academic quality standards by ensuring that the assessment methods will satisfy the requirements of professional/accrediting bodies and External Examiners.
  • Replacement of traditional face-to-face exams with a variety of alternative assessment formats such as essays, reports, problem sheets, multiple choice questions and other formats.
  • Ensuring that students suffer no academic disadvantage with all universities introducing flexible arrangements in these exceptional circumstances in relation to exam formats, marking and re-sits if required.
  • Recognition that some students may have technical issues with poor connectivity with exam formats and timing adjusted appropriately by the flexible arrangements in place in each university.
  • Supports and arrangements for students with recognised disabilities.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) representing TU Dublin and institutes of technology, said its member colleges were in the process of writing out to students on all programmes advising that what their specific assessment arrangements would be.

The spokesperson said colleges in the sector had been a very active in identifying and reaching out to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Online Editors