Wednesday January 19, 2022

After students demand online exams, HEC says universities to decide mode of assessment

Apprehensions of students reviewed carefully in consultation with vice-chancellors of all provinces and regions, says HEC

By Web Desk
January 27, 2021
The logo of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). — Twitter

It is up to the universities to decide whether they want to conduct in-person or online exams, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) said Wednesday, as protests by students against on-campus examinations continue.

In a long Twitter thread, the HEC said that it has taken notice of students' concerns regarding in-person examinations.

"The apprehensions of students were reviewed carefully in consultation with the vice-chancellors of all the provinces and regions, keeping in view the difficulties brought about by the pandemic and opening of universities from February 01, 2021," HEC said.

Reminding people that it had issued guidelines earlier, HEC said that it has allowed universities to use their discretion to conduct exams — either on-campus or online as long as the chosen mode provides "a fair assessment of students’ performance."

Speaking about how universities could conduct online exams, HEC said that they could be taken if the varsities administered ‘open book exams’ or established an invigilation system in a supervised environment.

"In this mode, universities will also have to use Turnitin (a plagiarism software) to check the similarity index with web and the answers of other students," the body said, adding that the educational institutions should take viva or oral exams where necessary.

Moreover, the HEC warned the universities that on-campus exams could only be conducted under strict compliance with all of the COVID-19 protocols. Universities may also have to organise make-up classes for two weeks in case students find the course coverage lacking.

"Assessment of all courses requiring psychomotor skills, such as medicine and engineering, and subjects involving lab/studio work, must be held on-campus," it said.

All students in a single course will be examined in the same mode—either on-line or on-campus, it said.

HEC said that since March 2020 it had been monitoring the pandemic situation and coordinated with universities to minimise academic disruption and continue online education with quality safeguards.

"The HEC Guidance on Online Readiness (#5) and Assessments and Examinations (#6) are available on the HEC website and provide the requirements and minimum standards to be observed by universities," it added.