With students’ continuing concerns about getting infected with the coronavirus during exams, the board of directors has decided to institute a third exam opportunity. Student organisations are happy, but not everyone is reassured.
In light of the high infection rate, students called on the university to move exams online again. Before the Christmas holiday, more than 850 students signed a petition asking the board to do so, and last week, eight student organisations sent the board an open letter.
Students were also asking for a second resit opportunity like they were given last year. They felt it would stop students suffering from symptoms, whether mild or severe, from sitting on-site exams.
The board heard their plea and instituted a third exam opportunity last week. Students unable to attend their regular exam or a resit because they have symptoms of Covid will still have the opportunity to sit their exam or resit.
‘We’re happy with the board’s decision’, says Onno de Wal with student party SOG. He was one of the people involved in sending the open letter. ‘We knew that putting everything back online would be difficult. We were also told that if we insisted on that, many exams would in fact be postponed.’
That’s why he and the other parties decided to aim for a third exam opportunity. ‘We’ve been asking about it since December, and it’s exactly what we got’, says De Wal. ‘They finally conceded. I think it will at least stop encouraging students with mild symptoms from attending on-site exams.’
Second-year student Belle, one of the initiators of the December petition, isn’t so sure, however. ‘It’s a step in the right direction, but that third opportunity falls in block four. That’s in May or June’, she says. ‘Students have other exams to sit, and they don’t want another to add to their workload.’
Besides, says Belle, another issue is the way exams are administered. Her mind is not put at ease by the fact that exam halls are ventilated before each exam, or that students have half an hour to enter and exit the hall in an orderly fashion, that the university provides medical face masks for everyone, or that stewards have been appointed to make sure that everything goes smoothly.
‘Last year, it was a mess at the exam hall. People passed close by others to get to their table, and they were pushing to get in’, she says. ‘We have to wait and see if this will actually work. And even if we do take all these measures, there’s still a good chance that one in all those hundreds of students has Covid.’
De Wal understands that students are still concerned. ‘But I think a third exam opportunity is the best thing the board could give us’, he says. ‘I understand that the students want more, but us council members have to be realistic in the compromises we reach. Plus, I think the extra measures will truly help minimise the risk of infection as much as possible.’