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Science: No electrical outlets during exams

The Faculty of Science has banned the use of power supplies while writing computer-based in-room exams. But most laptops don't have battery life to sustain the long exam hours

According to the management at the Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen (UCPH), a policy of ‘no use of electrical outlets’ is based on the need to treat all students equally. There are not enough charging outlets for each student, so no student should bring in charging devices.

But this means problems for some students: Two days before his written chemistry exam, Jonas Ingemar discovered a huge problem. The use of power or charging devices is not permitted in the exam rooms, even though these written exams take place on the student’s own computer.

“It seems a little ridiculous that at a university where we need to use computers every day, we don’t have the ability to charge them,” says Science student Jonas Ingemar, ”it’s a little like saying that you can bring your pencil…”

The quest for longer battery life

“…But no eraser,” remarks his classmate, Kjertan Lyster, “Compared to the other costs of education, the price of some extra electical sockets doesn’t seem like so big of an issue,” says Kjertan.

Kjertan Lyster is fortunate, because he recently invested in a brand new Toshiba laptop with a high battery life, but even this computer can barely keep up with the long exam requirements: “I think I have four hours and two minutes of battery life with the power savings set and not too many programs running at once,” he said.

Jonas Ingemar is less lucky. His Sony is a few years old, and no longer has enough battery life for the four-hour exam.”I sent a message to other students in my residence, asking if anyone has a computer with a longer battery life that they could lend out,” he remarks.

It’s about equality

According to Science faculty management, the policy is to avoid the monopolizing of a limited number of electrical outlets.

“If you ask me whether it would be good if there were enough power outlets in all rooms, my answer would obviously be yes,” says Henrik Busch, Associate Dean of Education at the Science Faculty. The problem is that the power supply cannot simply be extended with a roll of wire and a few extra sockets. The electrical demands are too high for this building’s exam rooms, which do not have a high electrical capacity.

“We would of course like to find a good, long-term solution to this problem, but, until then, it must be clear that when you start at the university, you should have a computer that meets certain requirements,” says Busch. This information is listed on the program’s website.

Last-minute hope

The excuse of ‘equal treatment’ as the reason for this power ban is not enough for Jonas Ingemar.

“It’s just not right,” he says, “those with the new computers have a big advantage over those with older ones.”.

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