ETH Zurich University Considers in-Person Exams Are Crucial Even Amid Pandemic

Switzerland Europe COVID-19 by Erudera News Dec 07, 2020

ETH university Switzerland

Since the very first days of the Coronavirus outbreak, almost all educational institutions across the world have shifted to online classes, including the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH).

As the exams’ period approaches, with only three weeks left, in an interview published by ETH Zurich, the Head of Academic Services, Hermann Lehner, spoke about the importance of in-person exams at ETH institution.

According to him, the reason why this institute requires students to sit for the exams in-person is that it wants to make honest evaluations of their performances but also to ensure that the current learning is preserving the quality, Erudera reports.

“Our responsibility is to prevent this as much as possible – which is all part of ensuring fairness. Above all, we must be able to guarantee the gold standard of an ETH qualification,” he said.

When asked whether a lot of students will be allowed by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) regulations to stay in the same room, he claimed that in-person exams are admissible if the university’s purpose is to ensure high-quality education. However, Lehner also said that in-person exams would be organized under a rigorous protection protocol.

“The exam session last summer was a good test run for the coming winter session – we are now well prepared. If students were prevented from sitting exams for this session in person, many of them would lose a year of study. That’s something we want to avoid under any circumstances,” he noted.

As per safety protocol, the university will be following the same practice as in summer, which according to Lehner has worked very well during that season.

The first thing foreseen is to review the starting time for exams in order to prevent all students arriving on campuses at the same time as well as to manage the entrances so that distancing rules will be respected. But, in winter, everyone will be forced to wear masks on campus, even during the examinations.

“Whatever happens, we want to make sure no students turn up for exams who have Covid symptoms or have to be in quarantine. We, therefore, urge all students to avoid unprotected contact with others in the run-up to examinations.”

Previously, during summer examinations, cancellation of failed performance evaluations took place at university. However, Lehner announced that such an exemption would not apply this winter, as this exceptional measure was passed by the rector as studies had to shift remotely overnight.

He declared that the university had noticed that many students have managed to prepare even more for exams during the last summer due to more available teaching materials including videos, documentation.

Regarding students who are worried about not being able to hold in-person exams as they are in self-isolation, Lehner stated that oral exams are not difficult to be realized as they can be held online, adding that it is often possible to repeat the exam at the beginning of the spring semester.

Yet, due to fairness, the university cannot turn written exams into oral exams for certain students, arguing that it could trigger unfair advantage.

Several education institutions from across the world have begun announcing that they will resume in-person studies next year.

Recently, the French President Emmanuel Macron said that starting from January 20, 2021, sports halls and restaurants could reopen, whereas 15 day later high schools and universities could continue in-person lessons as well.

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