Significant change to exams - they’re online

After months of work and study, thousands of students will put their knowledge to the test as University of Otago exams begin.

Yesterday marked the first day of second semester exams. Like so many other aspects of life in 2021, there were significant changes due to Covid-19.

All exams for this semester will be held online.

Acting academic deputy vice-chancellor Prof Pat Cragg said supervised exam rooms on campus were available for students to book if their home environment was not suitable for sitting an exam, such as for students who did not have an internet connection or had unstable Wi-Fi.

As of noon on Tuesday, there had been 900 desk registrations for the three and a-half week exam period.

Previously, in response to concerns about the increased likelihood of cheating in online exams, Prof Cragg said online assessments and online exams had been carefully written to limit the opportunity for academic misconduct.

‘‘For some papers where there are accreditation requirements or they are used for competitive entry into 200-level programmes, remote invigilation will be used, as it was in semester 1, 2020.

‘‘All other papers comprising short answers or essays will be submitted via Turnitin for plagiarism and collaboration detection. Students were advised of this on September 14.’’

Nearly 13,500 students will sit exams during the next few weeks.

The biggest exam was the biochemistry paper which had 1526 students sitting it.

Otago University Students Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey said online exams required students to adapt but there had been enough time to prepare to ensure that any difficulties were smoothed out.

‘‘Online exams are simply a reality of the tertiary sector in this pandemic and students and staff are doing their best to carry on through all the disruptions we’ve faced.’’