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Reconsideration of On-Campus Exams - SUAD

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In light of the current crisis and the urgent changes thereof, whether in education or other sectors, the students of Sorbonne University request with full cordiality and respect that the on-campus examination sessions would be reconsidered. We would like to request that the entirety of the examination session would be online due to its positive aspects that reduce the burden among students which is caused by the ongoing epidemic which may alter academic outcomes negatively.

Firstly, as per the email received on October 6th, 2021, the exams office stated ”per the latest instructions received from the Ministry of Education, we would like to inform you that all examinations (FLE Foundation year orientation exams, final examination sessions in January, May & June) will be conducted on campus for all students”. Clearly, no objection was raised against this announcement by the students as per the 7 day average of COVID-19 cases in the UAE was 177. However, with the acceleration of corona cases due to the new variant and festivities we believe that attending these exams is not in the best interest of the students. Sorbonne has stated numerous time that they are following the guidelines of the Ministry of Education. However, even with the recent statement of the ministry declaring that all learning should be conducted online for the first 2 weeks, Sorbonne has refused to change to online testing. This calls into question the universities ideologies of utmost safety. Are they willing to be held responsible for putting not only the safety of our health, but the safety of our family, elderly and immunocompromised at risk?

Furthermore, the examination office has decided that students who are tested positive for COVID or are identified as close contacts during the examination session are entitled to take the missed exams online (given the correct documentation). This decision is very flawed in terms of equality and fairness. Students who have the privilege to attend the examination sessions online will have access to all their material given that Sorbonne doesn’t use any lockdown browser to monitor the students screen. Meanwhile, students who are negative will have to attend the same examination but in person. Given this paradox, students are incentivized to test positive/get in contact with positive cases in order to have an advantage in examinations. This goes against all the rules of integrity and equality that the university preaches. This also does not line up with the vision of the Abu Dhabi government and its sectors to maintain a low infection rate of COVID-19 in the UAE.

Professors may express their concern about cheating if examinations were online but many measures can be put in place to prevent this given the amount of technological access we have now. In addition, some professors have expressed a keen interest in other examination formats which completely eliminates all concerns regarding cheating. For example, MCQ exams whereas wrong answers are penalized and only people who thoroughly analyze the course are able to answer. There are many routes that Sorbonne University could have taken to ensure the happiness of the Professors and the Students.

Finally, the epidemiological situation and its developments should be reviewed continuously to ease the safe return of students, and ensure the safety of teachers and administrative staff at educational facilities across the country. Unfortunately, this is not what Sorbonne University has done and students and their families are disappointed with the given decision. This decision does not take into account any of the new developments that have emerged. We hope you would reconsider as the students have no issue of attending exams on campus only if the situation remained the same as it was during the month of October.

We understand Sorbonne’s hesitance with online exams, and are aware decisions like this are not easy to make. We would like to reiterate the point that there was no objection to on-campus exams when it was previously announced. However, with the current turn of events, we are confident that this change is vital in creating an environment that staff and students feel comfortable to attend and work at their optimum. By expressing our opinions we believe it is the best way to ensure success and unity between all. We thank you for taking the time to read and once again hope that you will reconsider.

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