News - April 15, 2013

Exams often graded too late

Student often have to wait a long time for their exam grades, suggests a study by the student council. In only 40 percent of the courses they looked at do students get their grade back within the target time of 10 days.

This delay is the source of much frustration. 'It really is an issue for students,' says council member Esther van Vliet (VeSte). 'I have experienced it often enough myself. It is annoying because you don't know where you stand. If the university says you will get your grade within 10 days, you bear that in mind when you make plans. Besides, it is not nice to live for very long with uncertainty about whether you have passed.'
The figures from the survey were a reason for the student council to put the issue to the rector. Esther: 'Martin Kropff was amazed by the figures. He asked whether the study was really representative. I was astonished at the results myself - it was worse than I had expected. But we studied this across the full range of programmes, from Communica­tions to Molecular Sciences. The problem is big enough to warrant putting it to the executive board.'
Whether it can really be solved is another question, however. 'The biggest delay is with exams with open questions,' says Esther. 'Those questions are necessary in order to see whether students have insight into the subject. We don't want all the exams to be multiple choice.' Nor do the students want teacher-student relations coming under pressure. 'As it stands, there is mutual understanding. Students understand that teachers some­times need more time. And if a student urgently needs a grade back, he is allowed to spam the teacher with three emails. We don't want that relationship to deteriorate, and the rules shouldn't turn into a straightjacket.'
Esther does think small solutions can be found to stop the delays getting out of hand. Flexible deadlines, for instance. 'Multiple choice exams should always be graded within 10 days. You don't need any knowledge to grade those, just alertness.'