Oxford and Cambridge universities are to replace this summer’s exams with online assessments due to the coronavirus pandemic, amid calls by thousands of UK students to be allowed to opt-out of doing their final exams or restart their final year.
The move comes after students from Cambridge, Oxford, University College London (UCL) and Edinburgh University called for a choice of final-year assessments, warning that the worsening situation stemming from the Covid-19 outbreak threatens their academic performance and jeopardizes future career plans
Cambridge University announced on Friday it would replace this summer’s exams with online assessment.
Students unable to do this due to “illness, caring responsibilities or technical difficulties” will be allowed to undertake assessment at a later, as yet undetermined date, when the university is fully operational again.
The university also added that while this will inevitably impact the timeline of when they can graduate, students will not be allowed to defer their assessments until the next academic year.
In an email to students on Friday, Prof Martin Williams, pro-vice chancellor for education at Oxford, announced there would be no conventional exams next term.
The university expects the replacement assessment to include “open-book exams, taken remotely and submitted online”, and invited students to state their preferences in an online consultation.
His announcement came in response to an open letter from more than 1,200 Oxford students, including almost 30% of this year’s finalists, that called on the university to allow those due to graduate this summer to restart the final year in September or at Easter 2021.
In an open letter, students proposed that final-year students could receive a degree classification based on previous grades, dissertations and other coursework, or even be awarded an unclassified degree.
University College London (UCL)
UCL said it has decided to move all teaching online and to create alternative assessments due to the significant risks to students in postponing exams to some undefined point in the future.
In the meantime, the university advises its students to continue to prepare as per their exam schedule.
More than 1,000 students from UCL have signed a letter questioning its plans to push ahead with summer exams.
Edinburgh University announced that first and second-year students will be assessed on the basis of work already submitted as an alternative to exams. While those in their third year and beyond will take their exams online.
Edinburgh University assures students that they will achieve their qualifications on time and will still hold the same value as a normal degree
In an open letter, students called for final exams and coursework to be made optional, with finalists given the choice to have their degree grade determined on the basis of their assessments to date.