‘Most of them were remorseful’
Students ‘mildly’ punished for cheating
The students were allowed to turn themselves in to the exam committee. Fifteen of the twenty-three came forward. Their current grade will be deleted, and they will have two new chances to retake the exam next year, just like other students.
The eight students who didn’t come forward will receive a harsher punishment: they will only have one chance to retake the exam next year. They’ll also get a note in their file, which means they won’t be able to graduate with honours.
It turned out one suspected student hadn’t cheated after all; they will not be punished.
‘We were lenient’, says Maarten Derksen, head of the exam committee. ‘We took the special circumstances the students were in into account.’ Although, he emphasises, that’s no excuse to cheat.
During a multiple-choice exam, students discussed the answers in WhatsApp group chats. Some of their fellow students were so upset with this that they reported it to the exam committee.
The committee asked sixteen students this week for an explanation. The others had already explained their actions in a long email.
‘Most of them were extremely remorseful’, says Derksen. ‘They said the exams were difficult. Most of them just panicked and asked a few questions in the group chat. But others were online the whole time, discussing everything extensively.’
Derksen says the incident shows that multiple-choice exams are not a suitable option for online testing. ‘But this was an emergency. We’d have to postpone the exams otherwise, and neither the faculty nor the board of directors was in favour of that.’