April 14, 2005

Administrators vs Academics (Round 1)

I heard a good one today, from a lecturer friend at another university.

Apparently the examinations office was getting officious, as officers are wont to do, imposing the same fixed length of time for every single undergraduate exam.

Several of the academics didn't like this. It wasn't that they minded there being an upper limit on how long an exam could be, after all students might get two exams in a day, and this can be very tiring, particularly for some students with specific disabilities that need to be addressed when providing appropriate exam conditions (SENDA obligations and all that).

No, the problem was that some of the academics wanted to have shorter exams (the exams were used in conjunction with other forms of assessment, so it was suitable that they were shorter).
"Can't." said the examinations office.
"Please?" said the academics.
"No." said the examinations office.

Now the academics didn't want to mark more questions than they had to, nor did they want to impose more examination time than was necessary on the students, when a shorter time was perfectly appropriate and sensible. So, the academics simply set their exams as they would want them, that is, with questions taking time one hour less than the standard exam duration imposed by the examinations office, but the exam was still invigilated for the standard imposed duration.

The result? Lots of students leaving the exam early. The examinations office was collectively furious! "Very disruptive, all these students leaving early!!", they said.

Well, *duh*.


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