La Croix: In higher education, it is forbidden, with some exceptions, to hold face-to-face or partial examinations until May 3. Does this measure concern many events?
Virginie Dupont: The bulk of the exams are scheduled for May. This provision mainly concerns promotions at the end of the license or the end of the master’s degree for which the last part of the year, after the spring break, is devoted to internships. For them, it will be up to each university to decide on the most suitable modality, postponing the exams to early May or, to take into account the constraints of the calendar, maintaining the exams but at a distance.
Has the university made any progress in distance assessment?
VD : Yes, the university has learned to assess remotely since the first confinement, a year ago. In some cases, colleagues will adapt the tests, for example provide a multiple choice questionnaire with different questions according to the students. Or even plan work of reflection which limits the possibilities of cheating compared to a test consisting in restoring the elements of the course.
Some universities have also experimented, without necessarily being very convincing, with anti-cheating software, which, for example, takes photos of the candidate in a random manner at various points during the exam. In my opinion, cheating may affect one in a thousand people, and you don’t necessarily need to put such devices in place.
How to justify maintaining face-to-face tests for health studies or for entrance exams to major schools?
VD : In health studies, we have been focusing since the beginning of the year on D-Day and it is complicated to reorganize everything. The same goes for the competitive exams of the grandes écoles, whose oral examinations sometimes last until the end of July. For examinations in the health sectors, universities can resort – this was done even before the Covid pandemic – to the rental of outdoor spaces, such as exhibition centers. But this comes at a cost that we could not assume for all sectors.