Online exams v In person exams at Newcastle University Law School

Online exams v In person exams at Newcastle University Law School

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Why this petition matters

Started by NULS President

As the end of term 2 is approaching and equally exam season is on the horizon , it has become apparent that there is widespread anxiety and fears concerning the in person exams that the law school is holding. We believe it is detrimental to both our education and mental health to have to sit in person exams under the unprecedented conditions we have endured during our time at the law school for the following reasons:

1. Stage 3 students are expected to complete in person exams for their final and most significant year when they have had a wholly disrupted university experience with minimal experience and practice of in person exams which are entirely different to an online exam.

2. Stage 2 students are also expected to complete in person exams which count towards their degree. Although Stage 1 does not count towards the weighting of the degree, module grades will still be requested by employers. Many students have had no experience of an in-person exam environment since completing their GCSE’s which will most probably hinder many students. 

3. As agreed by several lecturers, online exams reflect real life more than an in-person exam. In the real world would you be presented with a scenario where you are unable to check your notes? Practicing in the field, it would be seen as bad practice to not reflect on notes or double check information. An in-person test is merely a memory test which does not accurately reflect a student's capability. Online exams have become the new norm, it is unfair to take the norm away from students without full consideration. 

4. Although government restrictions have been lifted which removes the obligation to self-isolate the government advice is to isolate, if possible, to protect one another. In tandem with this the university is still practicing covid friendly procedures such as the enforcement of masks and even keeping the lecture theatre doors open. In person exams contradicts these actions - pushing people to attend the in-person exam even if they have COVID 19, compromising a whole hall of students. Additionally, now free LFT has been withdrawn, the vast majority of students won’t be testing as they cannot afford them meaning the likelihood of contamination is high. This will have a knock-on effect for the whole exam season as exam timetables include several exams over a short period of time. Exams are worrying and stressful at the best of times, students do not need the additional anxiety of catching COVID 19 and the endless list of knock-on effects. It is well known that exam season is a highly stressful time and families are often a key support system - many students will not feel comfortable to access the support of families due to the fear of the possibility of transmitting the virus to those family members who the whole country has spent the best part of two years protecting - many of whom are still shielding or taking precautionary measures. 

5. People are still catching covid and experiencing the side effects from it - meaning they are missing lectures and falling behind. The possibility of catching covid 19 around exam season is high. Although there is the option of sitting the exam at a later stage if you fail, this will only add to anxieties as this prolongs the exam period and additionally does not give students a resist option if they fail. An online exam provides the best chance for students to complete an exam. 

6. Many students who attend the law school commute in and live in multi-generational households, several of which have commented that they choose not to put themselves in situations with high numbers of people such a going on nights out. They believe it is intrinsically unfair that they are being forced to sit in a room with hundreds of people and then must go back one to their vulnerable relatives with the enhanced possibility of endangering their life. 

7. Other faculties at the university in response to students' concerns have changed the syllabus to online exams 

8. Many Russell group law schools have stated they will conduct online exams for the duration of the year in response the various impactful factors students have faced in the last few years.

These were the reoccurring themes of the concerns that have been highlighted to us and there are still many more specific individuals concerns that hold substantial weight to the argument we are putting forward to the law school. We are not promising change, but we are advocating to the law school on behalf of students the re-evaluation of in person exams is needed. We are taking these concerns to the head of the law school in hope of creating a positive dialogue on the topic. Any signatures of support would be appreciated to show the depth of the issue across the school. 


215 have signed. Let’s get to 500!