Many Buet students not ready to sit for term final exams online

The exams will be taken through LMS and virtual meeting software and students will be provided letter grades based on both term-final examination and continuous assessment

A number of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) students are worried as the university authority has decided to take the term-final examinations of its undergraduate students online this year.

The students said final exams online cannot be a good option as most students reside in rural areas and face frequent electricity disruption and also a big portion of students have not got enough logistical support to sit in final exams.

The decision of holding the exam online came from the academic council meeting of the university held on July 28.

The exams will be taken through LMS and virtual meeting software (Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Moodle) and students will be provided letter grades based on both term-final examination and continuous assessment.

The duration of each exam will be two hours and students will have to submit their answer sheets online through LMS software within 15 minutes of the end of the exam.

Exams will be taken, forming a group of up to 35 students for each test room (online meeting app) and two teachers will act as invigilators for each group or team.

Students were asked to use two devices during the exam: one device for video monitoring and another to be used for exam purposes. Students will have to open cameras during the examination.

Talking to UNB, students said most of them cannot manage two devices for exams and Internet connection disruption is a key barrier to sit online exams.

The authorities should consider offline exams after ensuring speedy vaccination of all students, they demanded.

Seeking anonymity, a Buet student of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) department told UNB: “We have been long demanding offline exams maintaining hygienic rules and authority assured us of this before but now they suddenly announced to hold online exam citing the country’s deteriorating Covid-19 situation.

“Term final exam is an important exam for grading. We thought authority would consider our problems and demands. We are not ready for the online exam,” he added.

The student resides in a rural area of the country where a proper Internet connection is hard to get. Electricity disruptions are common.

A survey by some Buet students found that a number of students are not ready for online exams. Around 2,500 Buet students participated in the survey. A copy of the survey was provided to the authority.

A fourth-year Buet student said: “Load-shedding is a common experience for those who reside in villages or rural areas. In the last online exam, we saw a number of students struggling to get a proper Internet connection. They had to go outside for the connection, while some even couldn’t participate in the exam.”

“I live in Dhaka. So I am not worried about Internet connection but I am not supporting the idea of an online exam when my batchmates are not ready yet,” Sadia Farhana, a third-year Buet student said.

In the notice regarding the online exam, the authority did not clearly say what step will be taken if anyone cannot sit in the exam for obvious reasons like being infected with Covid-19.

“If any of us cannot attend the exam for obvious reasons, what will be next? Authority should be clear as we are running through an emergency situation,” some students said.

Moreover, students said they agreed to sit in the term final exam online but authorities should increase exam time from two hours to three hours.

“Online exam is logical in the pandemic time as Bangladesh is seeing a sudden spike in Covid cases, but university authorities should consider exam time,” a third-year student said, requesting not to be mentioned.

This correspondent repeatedly tried to reach Buet Vice-Chancellor Prof Satya Prasad Majumder but failed to connect.