When the coronavirus pandemic hit, exams suddenly had to be taken online on a massive scale, and multiple institutions of higher education discovered cases of academic misconduct. Students had copy-pasted information from existing files and discussed exam questions in chatrooms or on WhatsApp.
As a result, exams at universities in Maastricht, Twente and Rotterdam were declared invalid. The VVD party asked parliamentary questions such as: are we indeed facing an increase in the number of cases of academic misconduct, as it seemed in June?
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Minister Van Engelshoven answered that things aren’t that bad. She requested information on the matter from the umbrella organisations for higher education, who informed her that cheating during the coronavirus crisis was occurring on the same scale as before the outbreak.
The minister mentioned that a number of cases of academic misconduct during online exams had been reported, but that the institutions in question had already taken “appropriate measures”. She also wrote that institutions are learning from these experiences and adapting their testing methods accordingly.
The VVD party suggested explicitly including a review of online assessments in the upcoming evaluation of remote education. The minister has decided against this, as there are already a number of nationwide working groups looking into remote assessments. The SURF IT organisation ensures that institutions can learn from each other.
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Minister Van Engelshoven believes that institutions and their examination boards are already working hard to prevent cheating. Preventive measures include the use of oral examinations and online proctoring.
The latter method caused some privacy concerns this past spring. Two universities of applied sciences openly distanced themselves from the controversial proctoring software. University of Amsterdam students even started preliminary proceedings against the university – and lost.
The House of Representatives weighed in on the issue of proctoring as well. At the time, Minister van Engelshoven said that there was no need for students to make a big fuss.