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Norway government wants to postpone the scheme with two examiners

April 21, 2022

Original Article:

The original article requires translation.

Few points in the new proposal for the Universities and University Colleges Act have led to greater opposition than the requirement for two examiners, one of whom is external, in all examinations that use the grade scale A to F.

The amendment was initially to take effect from this year's autumn semester, but now the government proposes to postpone the introduction until after the entire legislation has been considered by the Storting next year.

The reason is twofold, says Minister Ola Borten Moe in a press release.

- Many universities and colleges are worried about whether they will put the scheme in place in a good enough way and need more time. In addition, the government is in the process of a comprehensive review of the Universities and University Colleges Act. A postponement therefore gives us the opportunity to make a comprehensive review of all the rules on exams, censorship, complaints about exams and complaints about formal errors in exams.

Moe believes this will be an advantage both to ensure students' rights and for the sector in general.

- It is unfortunate to introduce a censorship scheme this year and then make possible changes to the new UH law after a short time, the minister says in the press release.

The postponement will be presented to the Storting in connection with a bill that, among other things, regulates Nokut's tasks, as well as amendments to the law on leave and other provisions on facilitation for students.

Bolland: - Sensible

At NTNU, both dean Olav Bolland and vice-rector Marit Reitan have previously gone out and warned against this scheme.

Bolland has previously stated that the scheme will lead to more use of pass / fail as these exams will be exempt from the requirement.

- I think it makes sense that they now want to spend more time and make a more comprehensive assessment around it with forms of assessment. I interpret it as meaning that there has been a fairly massive unequivocal signal from the various universities that this has not been fully thought through, and the fact that they are now taking a new round of this indicates that the Minister is listening to the sector, so I think this is very positive, he says to Universitetsavisa on Friday.

Vice-Rector Reitan believes that the scheme will lead to less use of ongoing assessments in favor of an overall final assessment, and will result in poorer learning and mastery for the students.

Tekna: - A victory

In a press release from Tekna, the proposal for postponement is described as a victory.

- We need a thorough review of the entire assessment system, but not least must have a comprehensive and well-thought-out investment in assessment that provides increased learning outcomes, says Erlend Hermansen, student leader in the union, in the report.

- We can not spend tens of millions on getting an external examiner to work overtime when what we need are teachers who follow closely and provide good and learning-promoting feedback and assessments throughout the semester.

Tekna President Lars Olav Grøvik is also pleased that the government now wants to postpone the scheme.

- There is neither finance nor personnel to introduce such a scheme from 1 August. Sensors are to be paid for and this provides additional work, while the proposal was to be introduced without coverage.

Part of new UH law

The proposal for two examiners in all exams with letter grades was brought to the fore in connection with the government's work on a new HE law, and was adopted in the first reading in the Storting at the end of May last year .

Prior to the Storting's deliberations, there was a large gap in opinions as such an arrangement. In the camp that are positive to the change are the students, who believe a requirement for two examiners, one of which is external, will lead to more justice for the students.

- We are very pleased with this proposal, as such a requirement could contribute to students to a greater extent feel more confident that the grade is set correctly, and thus strengthen the students' legal security, NSO wrote in its consultation response.

Difficult to find independent sensor

In the proposition, the Ministry of Education and Research proposed to "legislate a requirement for independence for the education where the assessment takes place, for at least one of the two examiners".

To Universitetsavisa, the Ministry of Education and Research emphasized that this means that an external examiner may be employed at the same institution, but that the person in question must then have nothing to do with the student, the relevant subject, or the relevant education. If the institution does not find someone who qualifies internally, they must go out and look.

This led to reactions from those who will do the job of censoring or finding sensors. Both Forskerforbundet and NTL expressed their disagreement in their consultation responses to the new bill . Although both unions believe that on paper it is a good idea that to a greater extent safeguards the students' legal security and contributes to better quality.

"Merged institutions have made former external examiners internal, and in a tight exam time, it will be difficult in many subjects to find well-qualified and experienced examiners." they write and point out that there are also subjects that only exist at one institution, and that it can thus be "associated with great difficulties to find well-qualified external examiners who know the syllabus and the forms of learning sufficiently."

Additional costs

The merger point also advanced NTNU in its consultation response as a counter-argument against the scheme, and added that such a requirement would also "lead to increased resources used to control what students have learned instead of using the resources to improve students' learning".

The same concern was expressed by the then head of department at the Department of Teacher Education, Torberg Falch, and Trond Aalberg, associate professor at the Department of Computer Technology and Informatics, to Universitetsavisa when the Aune Committee's proposal for a new law was sent out for consultation .

- The most brutal cost is limitations in assessment methods and implicit limitations in learning activities and teaching methods. Despite good intentions about variety and new teaching, learning and assessment methods, we are guided towards streamlined use of one-way lectures, self-study without requirements and final assessment based on multiple-choice test, Aalberg said at the time.

Universitetsavisa's regular guest writer Helge Holden also agreed with the arguments against the new law. At his department, such a change would mean about five extra man-years, he wrote .

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