RSS issues joint statement over university assessment concerns

The RSS, along with a number of other mathematical societies, has expressed concerns over the move to online assessment, which some universities have indicated they may take up permanently.

The pandemic has meant that much university-level assessment has had to be carried out online over the past eighteen months. But some universities may phase out proctored on-campus examinations and closed-book assessments altogether in future.

Our statement, released jointly with the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) and London Mathematical Society (LMS) - and endorsed by the Edinburgh Mathematical Society and Heads of Departments of Mathematical Sciences (HoDoMS) - highlights concerns over the academic integrity of continued online assessment. It cites the increase in cases of ‘contract cheating’, where the assessments of students are completed by someone else, and ‘assessment support sites’, where full written answers to posted-questions can be obtained in well under an hour.

‘Such concerns have not only been expressed by academic members of staff, but also by the students themselves,’ the statement notes, adding that these practices, though not widespread at the moment, widen inequalities as only those with enough financial resources or background knowledge can take advantage.

The statement calls on all universities to continue to support departments in accessing whatever assessment methodologies and techniques that are most appropriate to their discipline.

Read the statement in full.

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