Tab poll results: Cambridge students vote in favour of scrapping Easter assessments

All students will find out about their assessments on Tuesday

In a recent poll of 1,950 students, 38.41 per cent voted in favour of scrapping exams and basing grades off term work and/or supervision reports, followed by 24.05 per cent voting to retake exams at a later date.

It says on the University website that “the standard approach will be for online assessment via Moodle”, yet only 4.67 per cent voted for an online exam in a conventional time frame.

Here is a full breakdown of the results:

By Monday 30th March, faculties and departments are expected to have confirmed assessment arrangements with the University. On Tuesday 31st, Graham Virgo, the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, will issue a statement revealing the key principles on which students are being assessed. That day, faculties and departments are also expected to release information detailing the format of upcoming assessments.

Many students are concerned about alternative assessment methods. How can we all sit exams at the same time if we live in different time zones? What happens if you live in a household where you can’t find a quiet space to revise or sit exams? How can you do an online exam if your Wifi isn’t reliable? What if you’re spending your time caring for a sick relative? What if you’re sick yourself at the time of assessment? What if you’re worrying about relatives at risk of dying and exams really aren’t your priority?

Photo credit: David Iliff

The University has said they will set up an alternative assessment period for students facing such difficulties, but it is currently unclear when this will be. Graham Virgo has issued the following statement: “Whilst we expect that most students will be able to undertake their assessment in the normal examination period next Term, we realise that there may be legitimate reasons why this is not possible, such as illness, caring responsibilities or technical difficulties. Therefore, for those students whose preparation or assessment is significantly disrupted in Easter Term, a further opportunity to take the assessment will be available once the University is fully operational again. It is, at this stage, difficult to predict when this might be.”

Students have released a number of open letters questioning the University’s planned methods of assessment. One letter, signed by 1,751 students at the time of writing calls for the University to allow students to vote on their preferred method. Another asks the University to think carefully about all the factors that could disadvantage certain students.

While the format of assessments are still unclear two weeks into the Easter vacation, emails from certain faculties and departments suggest that exams are going ahead. There have been no reports of exams being scrapped.

Featured image: Max Leadbetter