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15th February 2011

Geology students given answer sheets during exam

Students were handed out exam papers with answers attached to the back during a geology exam last month. Geology students sitting a second-year Geophysical Techniques exam were free to use the answer sheets for around half of the test before invigilators were made aware of the mistake. The exam will now be made void and senior staff members say they are looking for “a solution that is both academically robust and as fair as possible on the students.”

Students were handed out exam papers with answers attached to the back during a geology exam last month.

Geology students sitting a second-year Geophysical Techniques exam were free to use the answer sheets for around half of the test before invigilators were made aware of the mistake.

The exam will now be made void and senior staff members say they are looking for “a solution that is both academically robust and as fair as possible on the students.”

Some students left the examination hall in anger after realising the error.

Last week, The Mancunion also reported that a final-year business exam had received hundreds of complaints from students who claimed questions did not fairly reflect what had been taught in lectures and seminars.

A geology student, who did not wish to be named, told : “At first the invigilators told us not to turn to the back of the exam, but then of course everyone did. So they had to walk around the room ripping the back pages from everyone’s exam papers.

“Now we all have to do more work on a module that we’d already considered finished and out of the way.”

Head of school Prof Hugh Coe issued an apology to all students on the module shortly after the incident. It reads, “I am writing to you all to apologise for the error that arose in yesterday’s geophysical techniques examination and to reassure you all that we are treating this matter very seriously.

“Please be assured that we are currently working as hard as we can to arrive at a plan for how to take this forward that has as little impact on you all as is possible in your exams and recognise that events such as yesterday only increase the stress of the examination period.”

Prof Coe insisted that he did not yet know where responsibility for the error lay, but stressed that there was “obviously no malicious intent” involved.

“The other part of what we’re trying to do at the moment is to scrutinize our internal systems. Rather than lay the blame at a single individual.”

He continued, “There are a number of places where a process can fail. Clearly this process has failed. Whether that’s an individual error or a process error or a combination of both, we will examine what’s going on.”

The exam constitutes two per cent of students’ final degree grade.


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