Medical students alarmed as exams to be held on campus

Medical students alarmed as exams to be held on campus

Medical students are in uproar after the faculty announced all exams will have to be taken in person in the Aletta Jacobs hall. They fear problems with both quarantine and Christmas celebrations.
By Shrey Kalia
20 November om 8:26 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.
November 20 at 8:26 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.

Second-year medical students have three more exams left in this semester. After positive experiences in the Aletta Jacobs hall, where students obeyed the RIVM regulations, the board decided to have them exclusively on campus ‘to improve the quality and reliability of the exams’.

Exploded

WhatsApp groups exploded after the message. Students who have been staying abroad will not be able to follow quarantine rules after returning to Groningen to do onsite exams. ‘Some people can’t even make that, right. Aren’t some of you folks still abroad?’ said one medical student in the group chat. ‘Let alone the psychological problems that this email causes just a week before the exam,’ added another student.

Students are also angry at the date of the last exam: December 17. International students might not be able to get home to celebrate Christmas with their families, as most countries demand two weeks of quarantine, or a negative test for Covid-19, that would be hard to get, shortly before leaving.

The second-year medical students decided to address the situation and started a petition, asking the faculty to switch back to the hybrid exam model that was used before. They stated that the faculty’s decision wasn’t well-grounded and that it will affect both students in Groningen and those who went abroad. ‘The negative impacts of a physical exam cannot be justified,’ they said in the petition letter. ‘No (international) students have been consulted during the decision-making process.’ They also find the decision ‘very unfair’ for the students of the medical faculty when other faculties can have their exams online.

Four hundred students

Medical student Silke van Belkom is one of the 117 students who signed the petition. ‘If we all have to stay home for the fun things, we also have to stay home for our education’, she says. She believes that the faculty sets a bad example by putting over a hundred students in one exam hall.

‘I feel nervous to attend the exam with four hundred other students’, says Makrand Gulati, a second-year medical student from India. He visits his grandparents in The Hague every weekend and takes all the necessary precautions while he is in Groningen.

The faculty board, however, says that students in quarantine or isolation can take the missed partial exam with a catch-up exam at the end of the semester in February. Students who are at risk or have housemates who are can request a facilitation scheme from the Board of Examiners.

However, students who have been abroad are not eligible for the scheme; they are expected to take the catch-up exam, the faculty board said. Besides, the catch-up exam can be also used as an extra resit for those who fail the exam, in addition to the regular resit in summer.

Crossroads

Makrand is concerned that because of the ´inconvenience´ of the catch-up exam there is a high chance that students with mild symptoms will show up for the physical exam.

Silke also feels the faculty’s decision puts the students at a crossroads and even those in doubt about their health may try to avoid the resit at all costs. This might risk the safety of all the students. ‘I wouldn’t want to get my parents sick because I just took an exam,’ says Silke, who visits her family in Friesland every weekend.

Nevertheless, the university insists that with the new layout of the Aletta Jacobs hall, it is safe to conduct physical exams as long as the students follow the guidelines. ‘Exams are held online as much as possible unless there is absolutely no other option’, says spokesperson Jorien Bakker. ‘The exam policy has been issued after consultation with the students.’

She believes there is enough support among the student community. ‘In addition, it has never been said that students could travel ‘home’ and take their exams from there.’

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