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Coronavirus

University of Copenhagen upholds physical exams at controversial sites — but with new precautions

Corona infection — The University of Copenhagen maintains that it is safe to take a written exam with many other students at the Peter Bangs Vej location. There are now guards present and more distance between students to reduce the risk.

Disinfectant wipes on the tables. More distance between the tables. And security guards like the ones you might see making sure people stay in line at festivals.

These are some of the key elements in a scheme to make for a safer situation at the exam halls inside the Peter Bangs Vej location.

This is according to the University of Copenhagen’s intranet after several students raised concerns about having to sit exams among many other students as the virus spreads.

»Almost completely risk-free«

On 9 December, a new set of government guidelines came into force. Classes and exams are all to be carried out at home. But some exams are »exempt if the conversion to digital exams is not feasible.«

At the University of Copenhagen, this means in practice that some students will still be asked to physically turn up for exams. This could be the case if an exam has a practical element. Or if the local study board finds that it will be too easy to cheat if the exam is carried out digitally.

In addition to distance, guards, and wipes, an instruction video is being prepared, where students who are taking the exam can see how to arrive at, and how to leave, the premises.

It is especially at this point there is a risk of infection. This is according to Jørgen Kurtzhals, who is head of studies on the medical programme, in a video on the university intranet.

»I am a microbiologist myself, and when I look at the set-up that they now have at the Peter Bangs Vej location, I say that things are really on track. The actual exam situation is actually almost completely risk-free,« he says.

»The worst thing is getting in and out. Here UCPH has teamed up with some experts in logistics and crowds. So there is complete control of checking in and getting out,« he says.

To make people feel secure

It is not only on the University Post that students have told them that they feel unsafe having to attend physical exams. The Danish news site Politiken has also reported on their concerns.

It is hard to keep your distance at an exam. And it also seems unnecessary when the university has previously conducted online exams, according to the students.

The University of Copenhagen has always maintained that it is safe to take a physical exam – also at the Peter Bangs Vej premises.

»We will make sure that when there is physical attendance, this can be carried out in a way that is completely in line with health authorities’ instructions,« says the UCPH rector Henrik C. Wegener in a video on the university’s intranet.

The new initiatives have been set in motion to make the students feel more comfortable, according to Rie Snekkerup, vice director of the Education and Students unit, in an internal message to students and staff.

»We have gained experiences from the exams that have already taken place at Peter Bangs Vej. And by using selected measures, we have found that we are able to maintain a healthy setting that is also experienced as safe by the students.«

Students: I don’t feel safe

The new initiatives are not having the desired effect on all the students. Catalina Cocan is a student of quantitative biology and disease modelling at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). As DTU cooperates with the University of Copenhagen on the programme, she has almost half of her courses and exams at the Faculty of Health and Medical sciences at the UCPH.

She has a written exam at the Peter Bangs Vej location at the beginning of January and has read about the new initiatives.

»At DTU, all exams have been converted to online exams. Why can’t we do the same at the University of Copenhagen?« says Catalina Cocan.

If the university was interested in how the students felt, they would let the exams be online, according to her.

»I don’t know how the guards are supposed to help. It is just sending out the message that the university does not trust us to follow instructions. This doesn’t make me feel any safer, quite the contrary.«

If you still do not feel comfortable taking part in a physical exam, you can deregister yourself without using one of your exam attempts, according to the University of Copenhagen. In this way, you are just delayed in your course of study.

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