Examinations likely to return to campus in semester two

Most students at the University of Otago appear set to have their semester two examinations on campus, rather than online, if the region is in Alert Level 1 next month.

Covid-19 resulted in all of the university’s exams going online in semester one.

A repeat of that exercise appears unlikely for the next lot of exams, which start on October 14.

However, any setback in New Zealand’s push to keep Covid-19 under control might yet force the university’s hand.

The university has released an exams timetable, but told students the location or delivery — on campus or online — could change if the region is in Level 2 or above.

Under Level 2, some exams may need to move online, because of social distancing.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday the Cabinet had agreed “in principle" that, apart from Auckland, New Zealand should move to the more relaxed Level 1 restrictions from Monday next week.

University academic deputy vice-chancellor Pat Cragg said last week the university was exploring all options for exams, and final decisions had not been made.

That position moved slightly yesterday, when she confirmed most students could expect to have their exams on campus.

The university had already ruled out changes to the timing of exams.

That included going ahead with exams on October 17, the date of the general election.

Polling booths would be on campus and this was not expected to cause disruptions, Prof Cragg said.

"The university also gave consideration to the fact that voting opens two days earlier than normal and that students have the opportunity to vote from 9am-7pm on election day.

"Both of these factors, together with the ready access to polling booths on campus, eliminated risk around a student being prevented from voting."

Students received a five-mark boost on their semester one exam results.

If there had not been a grade bump, this year’s semester one pass rate would have been virtually identical to last year’s, Prof Cragg said.

After the grade bump, the grade-point average across all students lifted slightly, from 4.5 to 4.7. Both equate to grades in the B-/B range.

The measure reduced student stress and was "quite possibly one of the reasons academic performance overall did not suffer".

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