Documents from the Education Committee, seen by The Oxford Blue, reveal departments at the University of Oxford have been told that “they are strongly encouraged to retain online exams where academically appropriate.” The document also details a number of other considerations around how examinations should be conducted, with emphasis placed on moving to longer duration open-book examinations. Departments are “encouraged to focus on durations of 1 to 3 days” whilst shorter duration examinations such as those used predominantly this Trinity should be “used sparingly in relation to high-stakes assessment.”

Issues with the examination format utilised this summer are also discussed, with issues such as disruption and late submissions blamed for a “heightened student stress around assessment.”  It is acknowledged that exams taken this summer were “often taken in a sub-optimal environment” and that the short time period “ups the stakes even further.”

As a result of these considerations, the document suggests that examinations designed to take place over one or two days “could have potentially serious benefits for inclusive assessment, student experience, and exam administration.” Amongst suggested options is the release of examinations at 9:30am with a submission deadline of 5:30pm on the same day. 

When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for the University of Oxford provided the following statement:

“During the pandemic, the University embraced remote forms of assessment, and now has a dedicated e-assessment platform, Inspera, which has been used by thousands of students across the University. 

We are currently developing plans to build on this experience in the next academic year – looking to offer a variety of different assessment types, from coursework submissions and online open book exams to in-person examinations.”

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