The exams in question were administered to first-year International Business Administration (IBA) students between 8 June and 3 July. The chat room was established on 6 June, and the chairman of RSM’s Examinations Board, Lucas Meijs, said that it was ‘very obvious’ that it had been established with a view to helping each other sit exams. Viber is a WhatsApp-like app that is particularly popular in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and certain parts of Asia. As far as RSM knows, 83 people had joined the group, but only fifty of them have been identified, according to Meijs. Those students have all been invited to respond to questions by e-mail or to come to the faculty for an interview.
Marks declared invalid
Not all students who had joined the group received the same penalty. Some students were passive members of the group only, and it was impossible for the Examinations Board to determine whether they had looked at their phones during the examinations. “Being a member of a chat group outside examination time does not constitute a violation of the examinations regulations,” Meijs said on that score. However, the purpose of the group was so obvious that the 22 students concerned were severely reprimanded.
Some thirty students could be proven to have taken an active part in the group chat during one or more examinations. Sixteen of them had their marks for one or two exams declared invalid. Ten others were banned from sitting several or indeed any other examinations during this exam period. From now on, these students will not be allowed to take online exams. Most students who had their marks declared invalid will not be allowed to do a re-sit, either, so they will have to take the same course(s) again next year. A few students may be dismissed from the Faculty altogether. The Examinations Board wishes them to be dismissed, but Rector Rutger Engels has yet to issue a decision on the matter. It is not yet known whether Engels will uphold the Board’s recommendation. The students concerned will have the right to appeal the decision, and the Rector does not wish to comment on cases that are still pending.
Second major incident
The Viber group cheating scandal is not the first major cheating incident to come to light at RSM during the coronavirus crisis. Previously, EM wrote an article on a WhatsApp chat room in which IBA students had helped each other take the Supply Chain Management exam. At the time, thirteen students were penalised for cheating. The largest faculty on the Woudestein Campus administers many online exams without online proctoring, in which students are monitored through their webcams. Many Bachelor’s students attending RSM were unable to submit to online proctoring when the faculty decided to administer its exams online rather than on campus.
Minister for Education Ingrid van Engelshoven stated last week that there were no signs that more students had cheated while sitting their exams online, compared to prior to the coronavirus crisis. For his part, Meijs said that it was hard to tell whether online exams involve more cheating. “People collaborating on WhatsApp is a new thing. Other types of cheating, such as plagiarism, have been around for ever. It’s too soon to tell, based on figures and other analyses, whether we are seeing more cheating now.”